Sierra Nevada Completes Successful Dream Chaser Glide Flight

Dream Chaser during its captive carry flight. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev. (August 30, 2017) — Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser engineering test article passed a successful Captive Carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center on Wednesday as part of the Phase Two flight test efforts to advance Dream Chaser progress toward orbital flight.

“We are very pleased with results from the Captive Carry test, and everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing,” said Lee “Bru” Archambault, SNC’s director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program.

These activities are being conducted through a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), although the Phase Two flight tests will also be highly supportive of, and executed in parallel with continued work being done by SNC under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. The Dream Chaser test vehicle has been upgraded to include several components being integrated into the Dream Chaser Cargo System design, allowing Phase Two tests to act as a bridge between previous work with CCP and the next-generation vehicle currently under development for cargo resupply missions.

Dream Chaser is prepared for its captive-carry test. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

During Captive Carry test #1, a Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter successfully carried the Dream Chaser to the same altitude and flight conditions Dream Chaser experiences before release on a Free Flight test.

The SNC Mission Control Center team sent commands to Dream Chaser, monitored performance and collected critical test data designed to allow the team to refine Dream Chaser systems for peak performance on the actual Free Flight test day.

The Captive Carry test obtained data, evaluated systems such as radar altimeters, flush air data system, air data probes, navigation system, as well as overall system performance in a flight environment.

Successful data analysis, flight crew and flight control team proficiency, are critical ingredients needed for Certification of Flight Readiness. All technical info from the Captive Carry flight tests will be evaluated by the SNC engineering team and shared with NASA counterparts.

This Captive Carry test is one of two scheduled for 2017. Another Captive Carry test, designated Captive Carry #2, will incorporate fine tuning needs or lessons learned from today’s test flight. A fully successful Captive Carry #2 test, once completed, clears the way for the Dream Chaser Free Flight test.

“This test is another indication the Dream Chaser is on track for meeting our key milestones on the way to orbital spaceflight. We are excited to move through the remaining ground and flight testing to help inform our CRS2 orbital vehicle design and upcoming production,” said Steve Lindsey, vice president of Space Exploration Systems for SNC.

The Free Flight test is scheduled for later this year.

About Dream Chaser Spacecraft

Owned and operated by SNC, the Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle. It is capable of transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station (ISS) resides, and is the only commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of a runway landing. The Dream Chaser Cargo System was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. All Dream Chaser CRS2 cargo missions are planned to land at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.

About Sierra Nevada Corporation

Recognized as one of “The World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Space,” Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) provides customer-focused advanced technology solutions in the areas of space, aviation, electronics and systems integration. SNC’s Space Systems business area based in Louisville, Colorado, designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, space vehicles, rocket motors and spacecraft subsystems and components for the U.S. Government, commercial customers, as well as for the international market. SNC has more than 25 years of space heritage, participating in more than 450 successful space missions and delivering 4,000+ systems, subsystems and components around the world.