The Dream Chaser Spacecraft

Dream Chaser landing

The craft glided to a landing Saturday Nov. 12, 2017 at Edwards Air Force Base.

As Geek Wire notes, Sierra Nevada landed a different contract previous year to use the Dream Chaser as an unmanned vehicle to transfer cargo back and forth to the International Space Station. The reusable craft is considered ideal for this task since it's smoother return will ensure the preservation of precious scientific specimens on board.

- A mini-shuttle that one day may ferry supplies and astronauts to the space station is one small step closer to space after a successful test flight over the weekend.

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It's been in development by the Sparks company for more than 10 years. It's called a lifting body plane due to the lift being created by the body of the vehicle rather than the wings. The device was tested in free flight mode and landing.

The craft was made by the Sierra Nevada Corporation and was tested at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California. Currently Orbital ATK and SpaceX run resupply missions to the ISS, but those contracts are up come 2018, leaving room for Sierra Nevada to swoop in.

In early 2017, sources from this facility announced that the spacecraft would be dropped from a height of 3,810 meters by a Columbia 234-UT helicopter for this test. In 2016, Sierra Nevada was awarded a new contract. Unlike other spacecraft - the capsules that look like the vehicles that flew in the Apollo-era - the Dream Chaser has wings and wheels that allow it to land on a runway. Since then, Sierra Nevada has been modifying the Dream Chaser to just carry cargo. 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. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser".

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