SNC’s Dream Chaser finishes CCDev-2 – CORRECTION
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced Monday that the company’s Dream Chaser space plane has successfully finished NASA’s Commercial Crew Development phase, round 2 (CCDev2) and will now continue to work on the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) phase. The last hurdle for the company’s offering under CCDev2 was to pass a review of the first free-flight test of the spacecraft. Although the landing left something to be desired, in terms of what the was to be conducted during the free flight – was a success.
SNC conducted the test October 26 at NASA’s historic Dryden Flight Research Center located in California. The test was conducted to gain data regarding the stubby spaceplane’s aerodynamic and flight control capabilities.
Sierra Nevada Corporation has been working with NASA to develop Dream Chaser under CCDev2 for more than two years. The agency hopes that SNC and the two other companies involved in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will be able to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station. Dream Chaser will not be able to reach the orbiting laboratory on its own power however. To get out of Earth’s gravity well, the space plane will need a booster, in this case, provide by United Launch Alliance’s Atlas v rocket.
“A spacecraft that lands on runways provides unique benefits for commercial spaceflight, but also presents unique development challenges,” said Phil McAlister, NASA’s director of Commercial Spaceflight Development. “This flight of the Dream Chaser’s full-scale atmospheric flight test vehicle considerably improves confidence in the Dream Chaser’s design and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s ability to overcome engineering development challenges.”
Besides the free flight, Dream Chaser has had an array of tests conducted on it to validate the design. Some of these include: wind tunnel testing, captive-carry flights, avionics, flight control and more.
“SNC is pleased to begin flight testing and to have successfully completed the CCDev2 agreement,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems. “Having the Dream Chaser flight exceed our expectations on its first autonomous flight was an extraordinary accomplishment for SNC, its team of industry, government and university partners and all those who worked on the NASA heritage HL-20.”
According to the space agency, all of the partners competing under NASA’s Commercial Crew efforts have met their established milestones.
“We thank NASA for the tremendous support we have received over the life of the CCDev2 agreement and look forward to continuing our strong working relationship in building the next-generation crew transportation vehicle,” Sirangelo said. “Our goal is to restore America’s leadership in human spaceflight and completing CCDev2 was a critical step along that path.”
CORRECTION – This report originally stated that SNC had completed CCDev2 and was now moving on to CCiCap. This was incorrect as SNC has already completed 7 of its 12 milestones under CCiCap. We apologize for any confusion that this might have caused.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.