Dream Chaser Has Good Test Flight — Until the End

Dream Chaser Has Good Test Flight — Until the End

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft had a good test flight today until the very end when a problem with its left landing gear marred the event.

Dream Chaser is one of three competitors in NASA’s commercial crew program.   It looks like a small space shuttle and successfully achieved two captive-carry tests when tethered to a helicopter.  Today was the first time it was released from the helicopter and left to land on its own.  Everything went well at first.   As Sierra Nevada said in a press statement, Dream Chaser “adhered to the design flight trajectory throughout the flight profile” and “smoothly flared and touched down” on the runway at Edwards Air Force Base.   At that point, however, there was “an anomaly with the left landing gear deployment.”

NASASpaceflight.com phrased it less delicately, saying that the vehicle flipped over on the runway.

NASA is funding “2 1/2” companies to develop crew space transportation systems to take crews back and forth to the International Space Station.  Sierra Nevada is the “1/2,” receiving half the funds it requested under NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities (CCiCAP) program.  Sierra Nevada’s plan is to launch the Dream Chaser to orbit using an Atlas V rocket.  SpaceX and Boeing are the “2” that received full funding under CCiCAP.  Their designs are capsules reminiscent of an Apollo spacecraft.   Boeing also would use the Atlas V for launches of its CST-100 spacecraft.  SpaceX would use its own Falcon rocket to launch a version of the Dragon spacecraft outfitted for human crews rather than cargo as it already is doing under NASA’s commercial cargo program.

Dream Chaser during captive carry test, May 2012.  Photo credit:  Sierra Nevada

What impact the imperfect landing will have on the Dream Chaser program is unknown at this time.  Sierra Nevada said simply that “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.”

User Comments

SpacePolicyOnline.com has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.