Tag Archives: Sierra Nevada Corporation

Major milestone

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser program passed a major NASA milestone for its Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCAP) contract with the completion of a successful Free-Flight test, which produced subsonic flight and landing performance data.

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser Spacecraft Passes Major NASA Milestone after Free-Flight Test
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser Spacecraft Passes Major NASA Milestone after Free-Flight Test

Milestone 4B validated the spacecraft’s design for a safe and reliable return of cargo services to Earth through a gentle runway landing, signaling the program is one step closer to orbital operations.

The Dream Chaser will go to the space station for at least six cargo resupply missions starting in 2020 under a separate contract, NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2).

The NASA Commercial Crew Program reviewed the data, confirming it fully met or exceeded all requirements and authorized full payment of the milestone.  Additionally, SNC collected a significant amount of additional information that will be used for the final vehicle design.

«The test was a huge success and when we looked at the data, we were thrilled to see how closely our flight performance projections matched the actual flight data», said Steve Lindsey, vice president of SNC’s Space Exploration Systems business unit. «This gives us high confidence in our atmospheric flight performance as we move towards orbital operations».

The approach and landing test included intentional maneuvers both to assess the responsiveness of the Dream Chaser to control inputs and to measure the resulting stability of the vehicle under very dynamic, stressful conditions. This showcased the aerodynamic capability of the Dream Chaser as well as performance of the integrated computer system that autonomously returned the vehicle to a safe runway landing. These are critical components for orbital missions to and from the International Space Station.

Mark Sirangelo, executive vice president for SNC’s Space Systems business area, commented, «Achievements of this magnitude require the involvement and collaboration of many people. The Free-Flight test took place at the same historic location where the sound barrier was broken 70 years ago and where the Space Shuttle program began 40 years ago. With that historic legacy, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to our whole flight team».

«I want to especially thank NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Director, David McBride, the entire Armstrong team, the U.S. Air Force, NASA’s Commercial Crew and CRS2 programs, and our industry partners, including Draper Laboratories, who helped design our flight software. Most importantly, I want to say how proud I am of the SNC Dream Chaser flight and program teams who have performed above and beyond to make the flight and milestone a success», Sirangelo added.

The Free-Flight test of the Dream Chaser was performed at Edwards Air Force Base, California on November 11. The vehicle’s next milestone will be the CRS2 Dream Chaser Critical Design Review, scheduled for 2018.

 

About Dream Chaser Spacecraft

Owned and operated by SNC, the Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle. It is capable of transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station resides, and is the only commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of a runway landing. The Dream Chaser Cargo System was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the space station under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. All Dream Chaser CRS2 cargo missions are planned to land at Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.

Free-Flight test

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces a successful atmospheric Free-Flight test of its Dream Chaser spacecraft, signaling the program is another achievement closer to orbital operations.

The Dream Chaser landing after the Free-Flight test at Edwards AFB, CA on Saturday, November 11
The Dream Chaser landing after the Free-Flight test at Edwards AFB, CA on Saturday, November 11

The full-scale Dream Chaser test vehicle was lifted from a Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter on Saturday, released and flew a pre-planned flight path ending with an autonomous landing on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), California.

«The Dream Chaser flight test demonstrated excellent performance of the spacecraft’s aerodynamic design and the data shows that we are firmly on the path for safe, reliable orbital flight», said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space System business area.

The first orbital vehicle is scheduled to go to the International Space Station as soon as 2020 for at least six missions as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract (CRS2). The missions will supply astronauts with much needed supplies and technical support elements and enable the gentle return of scientific experiments. The test vehicle was originally developed under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities agreement (CCiCap).

«The Dream Chaser spacecraft today has proven its atmospheric flight performance along with its return and landing capability. This advances our program and the Dream Chaser towards orbital flight, while meeting the final milestone for our NASA CCiCap agreement and supporting milestone 5 of the CRS2 contract», Sirangelo added.

The test verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser spacecraft in the final approach and landing phase of flight, modeling a successful return from the space station.  Most critically, by flying the same flight path that would be used returning from orbit, this free-flight proves the highly important landing attributes needed to bring back science and experiments from the space station.

SNC and NASA will evaluate information from the test, including the Dream Chaser aerodynamic and integrated system performance from 12,400 feet/3,780 meters altitude through main landing gear touchdown, nose landing gear touchdown and final rollout to wheel-stop on the runway. The Edwards Air Force Base runway is very similar to the Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility runway that Dream Chaser will land on for CRS2 flights.

This approach and landing test expands on phase one flight testing, with key differences including adding specific program test inputs into the trajectory, which helps the engineers refine the aerodynamic characteristics of the vehicle. Saturday’s test also included orbital vehicle avionics and flight software for the first time, providing orbital vehicle design validation.

«I’m so proud of the Dream Chaser team for their continued excellence. This spacecraft is the future and has the ability to change the way humans interact with space, and I couldn’t be happier with SNC’s dedicated team and the results of the test», said Fatih Ozmen, CEO of SNC.

The Dream Chaser has been at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center since January undergoing a variety of tests in preparation for the Free-Flight. The spacecraft used the same historic hangar occupied by the Enterprise Shuttle.

Dream Chaser

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser underwent a captive carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center here August 30. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight, according to an SNC press release.

The Dream Chaser prepares for a captive carry test August 30, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)
The Dream Chaser prepares for a captive carry test August 30, 2017, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)

A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carried the Dream Chaser over Edwards for about an hour. The goal was to reach an altitude and flight conditions the spacecraft would experience before being released on a free flight test, said company officials.

The Dream Chaser was delivered to Armstrong January 25 to undergo several months of testing at the center in preparation for its upcoming approach and landing flight on one of Edwards Air Force Base’s (AFB) runways.

The test series is part of a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The test campaign will help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser, according to NASA.

Lee Archambault, SNC director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program, said in a press release, «We are very pleased with the results from the captive carry test and everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing».

The August 30 captive carry test is one of two planned at Edwards for this year. The test obtained data and evaluated both individual and overall system performance, said the release. If the second captive carry test is a success, it will clear the way for a free-flight test.

The Dream Chaser is also being prepared to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024, according to NASA.

A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carries the Dream Chaser over Edwards Air Force Base, California, for a captive carry test August 30, 2017 (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)
A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carries the Dream Chaser over Edwards Air Force Base, California, for a captive carry test August 30, 2017 (U.S. Air Force photo/Kenji Thuloweit)