Mini-shuttle glides to safe landing in desert test flight

Dream Chaser landing

Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

The craft has been in the works for more than 10 years and in 2016 the company was awarded the contract to transport cargo to and from the ISS for NASA.

Photo A helicopter lifted the Dream Chaser more than two miles off the ground, then dropped it.

The Dream Chaser is 30 feet long, about one quarter the length of a space shuttle. But Saturday's first-ever successful test flight of a miniature, new-generation space shuttle was something of a coup for the Sierra Nevada Corp., which had been waiting years to fly.

Dream Chaser made a landing at a US air force base Edwards, which is located in the Mojave desert in California.

The Dream Chaser suffered a setback in 2013 when the craft's landing gear did not completely deploy during a landing test and it skidded to a stop on the runway.

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Resembling a mini Space Shuttle, the Dream Chaser will soon be used to send cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Cargo Program. Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Twitter Saturday.

The Dream Chaser is a fairly unique vehicle compared to the other two companies' spacecraft.

According to Nasa, the flight test "helped advance the vehicle under Nasa's Commercial Crew Program space act agreement, as well as helped prepare the vehicle for service under Nasa's Commercial Resupply Services 2 program".

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".

The spacecraft will be launched on top of Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and on its return to Earth it will land on the runway. Under that agreement, Sierra Nevada will fly at least six cargo delivery missions for NASA by 2024, agency officials said in the November 11 statement. "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser".

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