SPARKS, Nev., July 28, 2016 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser full-scale, flight test vehicle is ready for transportation to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in California where Phase Two flight tests will be conducted in coordination with Edwards Air Force Base (AFB).
Dream Chaser program upgrades and initial hardware testing were completed at the Louisville, Colorado spacecraft assembly facility, and within the next several weeks the same Dream Chaser vehicle that conducted Phase One flight testing will arrive at NASA’s AFRC.
Upon arrival, SNC will begin a series of pre-flight ground evaluations to verify and validate the vehicle’s system and subsystem designs. After successful completion of all ground testing, Dream Chaser will begin its Phase Two free-flight testing. These activities are being conducted through a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).
“Dream Chaser continues to make strong progress toward orbital flight,” said Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems business area. “In addition to Phase Two flight testing, our on-time completion of the first two milestones under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract in the last two months positions us well to be on-schedule for orbital operational flight. We are very grateful for all the support we have received from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, and are excited to continue the legacy of historic flight testing that is the hallmark of NASA AFRC and Edwards AFB.”
What Are We Testing?
The vehicle will undergo a series of tests building on those performed in Phase One, including tow-tests, pre-flight tests and ending with free-flight testing. SNC is also performing additional critical tests to validate the Dream Chaser’s orbital flight software and calculate the spacecraft’s handling and performance characteristics. Along with other pre-flight and post-flight evaluations, this data will be used to confirm Dream Chaser’s subsonic aerodynamic properties as well as flight software and control system performance requirements.
“These tests are significant for us in multiple ways; building on our previous flight test, completing a significant milestone under our CCP agreement, as well as gathering crucial data that will help complete the design of the vehicle being built for our CRS-2 contract,” said Sirangelo.
CCP Testing Supports CRS-2 Development
The Phase Two flight test efforts will be highly supportive of, and executed in parallel with continued work being done by SNC under the NASA CRS-2 program. The Dream Chaser test vehicle has been upgraded to include several hardware and software components being integrated into the Dream Chaser Cargo System design for the CRS-2 program, allowing for actual flight testing of the new components. The flight tests will act as a bridge between previous work with CCP and the next-generation vehicle currently under development for the forthcoming International Space Station cargo resupply missions.
Editor’s Note: These flight tests were part of Sierra Nevada’s commercial crew contract prior to Dream Chaser being eliminated from the competition. Dream Chaser flew one glide test in October 2013, but the vehicle crashed on the runway due to a failure of part of the landing gear to deploy.
NASA officials said earlier this week they expect tests to take place around December. The space agency has extended its agreement with Sierra Nevada through the middle of 2017 to provide additional time should the tests be delayed.