Dream Chaser Glide Test Fact Sheet

Dream Chaser during glide flight. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser® Spacecraft Free-Flight Test Data Sheet

Date: Saturday, November 11th 2017

Lift-off time: 8:30 am PT

Release time: 09:41 am PT

Release altitude: 12,324 feet, mean sea level

Release equivalent air speed: 66 miles per hour

Release angle of attack: -2.17 degrees

Release angle of sideslip: -0.76 degrees

Maximum speed: 330 miles per hour

Maximum angle of attack in flight: 16.5 degrees

Dream Chaser time in glide: approx. 60 seconds

Dream Chaser horizontal glide distance: 16,217 feet

Dream Chaser touch down time: 09:42 am PT

Landing speed: 191 miles per hour

Landing touchdown point: 1,250 feet down runway

Landing rollout distance: 4,200 feet

Helicopter type: Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook

Length of helicopter suspension system: 200 feet

Runway: Edwards Air Force Base Runway 22 Left

Vehicle length: 30 feet long

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    I love stuff dropped and recovered by helicopter. I’m more excited than I should be about ULA’s SMART reuse just for that reason: to watch a CH-53 spear a pair of BE-4’s mid-air. Even if it happened just once, it’d be awesome.

  • 191 touchdown speed! That’s just nuts. Was the thing even at gross? How much faster will it get? I thought wings were supposed to make for a GENTLER return. I realize the aeroshell goes through a lot of flight regimes: hyper, super, trans and subsonic to Cl-max and then full stop – but landing at ~200 mph is just nuts.

  • duheagle

    If 191 mph is “nuts,” then what is one to say about NASA aircraft? Shuttle’s nominal landing speed was 215 mph. The landing speed of the X-15 was also over 200 mph. Some sources say X-15’s landing speed was as high as 240 mph. Shuttle landed safely 133 times. X-15 had one landing accident in 198 landings.

  • Aerospike

    I thought wings were supposed to make for a GENTLER return.

    There is your problem, you are looking at a lifting body, not a vehicle with wings. (I would not go as far to call those stubby little things on the sides “wings”.)

  • SamuelRoman13

    It could be more gentle. If the rate of decent is near zero when it touches down. Which it is or the tires would have blown. Smooth runway a must. The nose skid slams down pretty hard. That might be some g’s. Looked a little off line at stop. No skid steering I guess.

  • Jeff2Space

    Before the Challenger disaster, the only way that the orbiter could be steered after touchdown was with the rudder and “differential braking” using the main landing gear brakes. Unfortunately, this was quite marginal, especially when a lot of steering was needed post landing, due to high crosswinds.

    Post Challenger they added the “drag chute” as well as nose wheel steering to take some of the load off the main landing gear brakes. These were among the many changes made post-Challenger which were essentially being ignored prior to that accident.

  • Jeff2Space

    Then you should watch some videos of US spysat film recovery.

    HD Stock Footage JC-130A Air Recovery of Space Capsule, Space Program 1960’s

  • Jimmy S. Overly

    I’m familiar! CORONA was a really cool program.

  • 1:331 is considered good now? BTW, look at those PIOs on the Shuttle’s ALT, that’s a consequence of landing with too much energy. https://youtu.be/2aC5WlFtkig

    Of course you CAN land at any speed you want, but I think the commercial airlines have it down: 100-150mph. Compare that to Concorde that landed around 165 and took off at like 250.

    Q: How did we lose a Concorde?
    A: At takeoff!

    (yes, there are no air intakes to suck up tire chunks on HL-20, STS or X-15)

    The problem is that v^2 term. You are just carrying a lot of energy and it just reduces margin. My opinion is that if we want to make space more accessible/routine/low-cost, we have to design our space machines to work more like normal earth machines.

  • Zen_Punk

    Can anyone tell me why DC uses a skid for the nose gear instead of a wheel?

  • duheagle

    The clip is of the Enterprise on the last of its two Approach and Landing Tests made without the tapered “cone” over the main engines and Orbital Maneuvering System pods. These tests were intended to verify simulations and characterize vehicle behavior. There is definitely Pilot-Induced Oscillation here, but I think it is purposeful envelope pushing, not a reflection of any intrinsic uncontrollability of the Shuttle or of pilot error.

    If you dispute this, I advise you to take it up with Fred Haise. He flew left seat on this mission and he’s very much still around.

    Shuttle pilots were all veteran test pilots. Previous to Shuttle they had flown pretty much every hot stick in the U.S. inventory including X-15, F-104, SR-71, F-14, F-15, F-18, etc. Many of these land quite hot, especially the first three named. Put a veteran airline pilot in the Shuttle and you would have had a big problem. But for Shuttle pilots, hot landings were nothing new.

    The Concorde reference is irrelevant. And the Concorde that crashed didn’t inhale tire chunks, it took a hit in a fuel tank from a large piece of metal debris kicked up by its port main gear on takeoff. Dream Chaser doesn’t take off from a runway and its landing rollout is much shorter than a Concorde’s takeoff roll.

    Ultimately, quibbling about pilot capability is also irrelevant. In service, Dream Chaser is going to be landed neither by veteran test pilots nor by airline pilots, it’s going to be landed by software. Software utterly lacks the capacity to be spooked by high landing speeds.

  • duheagle

    Given that the “wings” on Dream Chaser contribute little or nothing in the way of lift, their “loading” is irrelevant. The lift generated comes from the body shape. That’s why this class of vehicle is called a “lifting body.”

    Oh yeah, zero rate of descent is not the same thing as zero-G.

  • windbourne

    why do you think that?
    The 747 lands at 160-180 mph at sea level, and around 180-190 when hitting DEN in middle of summer.
    In fact, a loaded 747 will take off at > 200 MPH at DEN hot summer day.

  • Search

    I think its a rather clever solution to providing braking force without a chute. Plus the way it loads the craft at the front and downward moment might be preferable to a tail chute.