NASA has deemed the Dream Chaser space plane's flight test last year a success, meaning Sierra Nevada Corp. Space Systems met space agency requirements for funding of the spacecraft's development.
The Louisville-based company tested the self-flying spaceship over California's Mojave desert in November, dropping the unmanned Dream Chaser by helicopter from 12,234 feet and having the craft's on-board computers fly it through a couple maneuvers before landing on an Edwards Air Force Base runway.
SNC Space Systems' drop test “validated the spacecraft's design for a safe and reliable return of cargo services to Earth through a gentle runway landing,” the company said.
“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 unit, in a statement. “This gives us high confidence in our atmospheric flight performance as we move towards orbital operations.”