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

Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

The unmanned aircraft made a soft landing at Edwards Base last Saturday during the free flight test at the Armstrong Flight Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The flight was a final funded milestone in the Space Act Agreement that Sierra Nevada Corporation has with NASA as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability effort.

SNC is planning to deliver cargo to the ISS in 2019 and is expected to fly "at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024". (5,500 kilograms) of cargo to the International Space Station.

In the long-awaited test, a helicopter carried the Dream Chaser engineering test article aloft and released it at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters, allowing the vehicle to glide to a runway landing at Edwards. Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018. Orbital ATK's capsule - known as Cygnus - is then created to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere once it leaves the station, while SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule can survive the descent to Earth, using parachutes to land in the ocean. Future orbital vehicles will launch on Atlas V rockets from United Launch Alliance, and Lockheed Martin has partnered with Sierra Nevada to develop the composite structural shell of the orbital-class vehicles.

Originally, Sierra Nevada had hoped its Dream Chaser would carry astronauts, and not just cargo, to the ISS. The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday (Nov. 13).

This weekend's free-flight test was the second one that Sierra Nevada has done with Dream Chaser.

Main objective of test flight was verifying ability of guidance system for independent flight and landing.