|Dream Chaser is prepared for shipment|
Image credit: SNC
Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Space Systems Dream Chaser flight vehicle arrived at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California on Wednesday 15th May 2013 to begin tests of its flight and runway landing systems.
The tests are important milestones for the NASA Commercial Crew Program which aims to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective U.S. human access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit.
Tests at Dryden will include tow, captive-carry and free-flight tests of the Dream Chaser. A truck will tow the craft down a runway to validate performance of the nose strut, brakes and tires. The captive-carry flights will further examine the loads it will encounter during flight as it is carried by an Erickson Skycrane helicopter. The free flight later this year will test Dream Chaser's aerodynamics through landing.
The Dream Chaser is based on Langley's Horizontal Lander HL-20 lifting body design, which builds on years of analysis and wind tunnel testing by Langley engineers during the 1980s and 1990s. Langley and SNC joined forces six years ago to update the HL-20 design in the Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle. In those years, SNC worked with the center to refine the spacecraft design. SNC will continue to test models in Langley wind tunnels. Langley researchers also helped develop a cockpit simulator at SNC's facility in Louisville, Colo., and the flight simulations being assessed at the center.