Crewless Dream Chaser space plane successfully passed a test flight on Saturday
Even though the space plane will not carry any crew, it will have another important mission: to transport cargo to the International Space Station in the years to come, while also conduct other missions.
A very important milestone has been completed on Saturday: the glide test.
Dream Chaser has been lifted by a helicopter more than 2.3 miles off the ground, and then dropped. In 1 minute, the craft accelerated to 330 miles per hour, successfully made a couple of turns and glided 10 miles to a runway at Edwards Air Force Base located in California. At touchdown, it recorded a speed of 191 miles per hour, rolling 4,200 feet before stopping.
“The vehicle is in perfect shape, no issues,” Mark N. Sirangelo, the head of Sierra Nevada Space Systems, the maker of the Dream Chaser, said in an interview.
He also added that he believed no more glide tests would be necessary. Moreover, if NASA says yes, the first flight of the Dream Chaser could be a return from orbit 2 or 3 years from now, ending a mission taking cargo to and from the space station.
The space plane is an autonomous, self-flying spacecraft that won’t be carrying any people as it has been created for different uses. Saturday’s test proved that the software behind the vehicle worked just as designed, having no problem with the landing gear or any other parts.