Sierra Nevada Corp tests Dream Chaser spacecraft

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The unmanned craft is created to launch atop a rocket and shuttle cargo and supplies to the International Space Station, and then return to land on a runway with experiments and samples from the space station.

Sierra Nevada conducted a successful glide and landing test flight with its Dream Chaser spaceplane on Saturday, November 11. Earlier this year, officials at the Armstrong center, where Dream Chaser is being tested, said the space plane would to be dropped from an altitude of 12,500 feet (3,810 meters) by a Columbia 234-UT helicopter for this test.

The company tweeted photos of the craft gliding to a landing at Edwards Air Force Base on Saturday.

The testing showcased the Dream Chaser's aerodynamic properties as well as flight software and control system performance. The company won a Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract from NASA in 2016 to transport cargo to and from the ISS. But in 2014, NASA didn't pick the Dream Chaser to do crewed flights to the ISS, going with SpaceX and Boeing's proposed vehicles instead.

SNC's lifting-body spacecraft has been in development for more than a decade and is created to deliver up to 5,500kg of pressurised and unpressurised cargo to the space station.

This weekend's free-flight test was the second one that Sierra Nevada has done with Dream Chaser.

This is significant for the aerospace manufacturer since its last free-flight test in 2013 resulted in minor damage when a problem with the deployment of its left landing gear caused the plane to skid off the runway. The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday (Nov. 13).