Sierra Nevada conducted a captive carriage test flight of the Dream Chaser engineering test article Thursday at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in California in preparation for the start of approach and landing free flight tests next month. The two-hour flight covered a three-mile route over the dry lake bed which the vehicle is expected to follow during its forthcoming free-flight.
The test, which saw the lifting body space vehicle lifted by a Sikorsky S-64 to around 12,400 feet above the dry lakebed, follows completion of tow tests earlier this month. The Dream Chaser performed four sets of slow and high speed ground tow tests since July with runs completed at 10 mph, 20 mph, 40 mph and 60 mph to verify integrated spacecraft performance under landing and rollout conditions. Sierra Nevada says systems verifications included flight computer and flight software, instrumentation, guidance, navigation, and control, braking and steering performance, flight control surface actuation, mission control and remote commanding capability, and landing gear dynamics.
“The tests ensure the Dream Chaser would operate properly upon landing and that the spacecraft will come to a controlled stop after touching down on the runway,” it adds. Following the captive carry test, the evaluation will culminate with at least one approach and landing free flight test.
For the complete story by Guy Norris of Aviation Week’s On Space blog, click here.
Photo by Ken Ulbrich, NASA