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Sierra Nevada Corporation after glide test flight of Dream Chaser space plane

13 November 2017

If Sierra Nevada is going to fulfill supply missions for the International Space Station and the United Nations, it'll have to prove that its Dream Chaser spacecraft is ready to fly... and it just took a big step in that direction.

Prototype spacecraft Dream Chaser has successfully completed its first glide test flight nearly two years after securing a multi-billion dollar contract from Nasa. 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 stunt, done at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, is known as a free-flight test and is meant to test out the vehicle's landing capabilities.

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Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft.

The testing showcased the Dream Chaser's aerodynamic properties as well as flight software and control system performance. Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Twitter Saturday.

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Sierra Nevada Corporation said the test was a success and pledged to give more details on Monday.

Dream Chaser looks much like a miniature version of a NASA space shuttle. Both SpaceX and Orbital ATK developed wingless cargo capsules that launch to the station on top of the companies' rockets.

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It's been in development by the Sparks, Nevada, company for more than 10 years. NASA has awarded the company a Commercial Resupply Services contract to provide ISS resupply flights from 2019 to 2024. It was the second glide test for the project. 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.

Sierra Nevada Corporation after glide test flight of Dream Chaser space plane