Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser has recently undergone a captive carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, California.
As part of the spacecraft’s phase two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight, a Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carried the Dream Chaser over Edwards for about an hour on 30 August. The goal was to reach an altitude and flight conditions the spacecraft would experience, before releasing it on a free flight test.
The test series is part of a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and was designed to help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser.
Lee Archambault, SNC director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program, said, “We are very pleased with the results from the captive carry test and everything we have seen points to a successful test, with useful data for the next round of testing.”
The first of two captive carry tests planned at Edwards for this year, it obtained data and evaluated both individual and overall system performance. If the second captive carry test is a success, it will clear the way for a free-flight test.
The Dream Chaser is also being prepared to deliver cargo to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract, beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024, NASA has confirmed.