Dream Chaser Space Plane Passes Landing Test

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Over the course of one minute, the craft accelerated to 330 miles per hour, made a couple of turns and glided 10 miles to a runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The company is under contract from NASA to fly its Dream Chaser spaceplane to the International Space Station by 2020. The reusable craft is considered ideal for this task since it's smoother return will ensure the preservation of precious scientific specimens on board.

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In 2014, the space agency announced it would only fund the Dream Chaser rival programs, SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft, for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap). The Dream Chaser spacecraft developed specifically for bringing supplied to the ISS is in the testing stages and passed a test for approach and landing on Saturday. The flexible aircraft can also be rapidly turned around and reused for future flights. Sierra Nevada was picked for that round, along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK again. NASA has awarded the company a Commercial Resupply Services contract to provide ISS resupply flights from 2019 to 2024. It is being created to land on runways and then allow crews to access the materials flown back to Earth soon after landing.

The Dream Chaser is an autonomous, self-flying spacecraft, and this iteration will not carry any people. A company called SpaceDev resurrected the design, but after its founder left to form a space tourism company, SpaceDev was purchased by Sierra Nevada in 2008. It will lift off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 booster from Cape Canaveral, and will touch down on the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first one, back in 2013, didn't go all that smoothly: the vehicle's landing gears failed, causing the spaceplane to crash land and then skid off the runway. The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday (Nov. 13). The Dream Chaser from Sierra Nevada offers more reliable landings than the other two now offer.

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