Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Space Plane Aces Free-Flight Drop Test

Dream Chaser landing

Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

The vehicle flew a similar glide flight in October 2013, which the company and NASA considered successful despite a landing gear failure that caused the vehicle to skid off the runway after landing. The company said several hours after the test that the glide flight was a success, and would release more details November 13.

The test had been long-planned but not publicly announced, according to Space Flight Now. Its on-board guidance system lined up the spacecraft with the runway during the steep final approach.

Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser for the last ten years, together with NASA, the latter then singled out to develop more than 125 million dollars.

The engineering test article (ETA) was lifted by a helicopter sky-crane and released from an altitude of over 3,000 meters, Space News reported.

"The Dream Chaser had a attractive flight and landing!"

The Dream Chaser is a fairly unique vehicle compared to the other two companies' spacecraft.

The Dream Chaser itself has an interesting and rather convoluted history. Sierra Nevada was picked for that round, along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK again. Sierra Nevada got funding in 2012 under the CCiCap program, which paid out certain amounts as the spacecraft successfully completed several milestones. Sierra Nevada filed a protest, but the government's General Accounting Office upheld the decision.

The glide flight, while a milestone in the company's commercial crew agreement, will support Sierra Nevada Corporation's efforts to develop a cargo version of the vehicle.

The first actual spaceflight of the Dream Chaser is planned for 2020. The Dream Chaser, however, which is meant to launch on top of an Atlas V rocket, glides down to Earth like a plane after reentering the atmosphere, landing horizontally on a runway.

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