Dream Chaser Approach & Landing Test: Approach Good, Landing Not

Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation
Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

Sierra Nevada Statement
Oct. 26, 2013

Today, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) performed its first free-flight approach-and-landing test of the Dream Chaserspacecraft. The vehicle successfully released from its carrier aircraft, an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter, as planned at approximately 11:10 a.m. Pacific Standard [sic] Time. Following release, the Dream Chaser spacecraft automated flight control system gently steered the vehicle to its intended glide slope. The vehicle adhered to the design flight trajectory throughout the flight profile. Less than a minute later, Dream Chaser smoothly flared and touched down on Edwards Air Force Base’s Runway 22L right on centerline. While there was an anomaly with the left landing gear deployment, the high-quality flight and telemetry data throughout all phases of the approach-and-landing test will allow SNC teams to continue to refine their spacecraft design. SNC and NASA Dryden are currently reviewing the data. As with any space flight test program, there will be anomalies that we can learn from, allowing us to improve our vehicle and accelerate our rate of progress. Please continue to monitor, www.SNCDreamChaser.com, for more information.

  • therealdmt

    The operation was a success! Unfortunately, the patient died.

  • Carolynne Campbell

    Funny how things get reported. If a conventional aircraft flipped on landing it would be reported as a ‘crash’. As it is a space-plane, it’s an ‘anomaly’.

  • Aerospike

    In the aircraft world such a crash is accepted as something “normal” during development.
    In the spacecraft world (and especially in governments funding those programs) such a crash is seen as a “final nail in the coffin” kind of thing.

    I think that’s the reason for those “double standards”.

    PS: Video or didn’t happen! :p

  • There’s a long and distinguished history of landing mishaps for experimental aircraft, especially high-speed configurations. The high-lift devices conventional aircraft use to slow down landing speeds tend to be smaller if they’re present at all. Here’s a good discussion of a couple X-15 landing mishaps. Luckily these two weren’t nails!