Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dream Chaser has landing snafu

Sierra Nevada's prototype Dream Chaser spacecraft had its first free-flight test Saturday, but sustained damage when its landing gear failed to deploy properly while landing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The spacecraft, which looks like NASA's space shuttle, was unmanned during the test. It was released from an air-crane helicopter at 12,000 feet and adhered to the design flight trajectory throughout the flight profile. The landing gear in the test flight was adapted from an F-5E fighter, but future versions will use a different design. Sierra Nevada is one of the commercial companies contracted by NASA to develop spacecraft to bring supplies and personnel to the International Space Station. (Sources: NBC News, 10/27/13, Space Travel, 10/28/13) Gulf Coast note: Sierra Nevada contracted with Lockheed Martin to assemble the composite structure for the first space-bound Dream Chaser at NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.