Dream Chaser Space Plane Passes Landing Test

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But a year ago, NASA awarded a second round of contracts, in order to cover cargo shipments to the ISS from 2019 through 2024.

Saturday's free-flight test "verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the critical final approach and landing phase of flight, meeting expected models for a future return from the International Space Station", Armstrong officials said, adding that more tests will likely follow.

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During the last two years, SNC has worked to reconfigure the Dream Chaser to make it cargo-only spacecraft, after losing out as entrants in Nasa's commercial crew competition to build spacecraft that would see humans travel to low-Earth orbit and back. Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018. The company expects to start cargo missions sometime in 2020.

Sierra Nevada Corp. says its Dream Chaser spacecraft had a successful free-flight drop test in the Mojave Desert during the weekend. It proves that, on a basic level, Dream Chaser can live up to its role as a reusable cargo ship. Unlike a capsule that might land in a remote area, Dream Chaser can quickly return experiments to waiting researchers. The company said several hours after the test that the glide flight was a success, and would release more details November 13.

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Main goal of test flight was verifying ability of guidance system for independent flight and landing. Sierra Nevada plans to give more details on the test during a press conference this afternoon.

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