Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser underwent a captive carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center today at Edwards Air Force Base.
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.
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 Jan. 25 to undergo several months of testing at the center in preparation for its upcoming approach and landing flight on one of Edwards AFB’s 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.
Through a press release, Lee Archambault, SNC director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program, said, “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 captive carry test today is one of two planned at Edwards for this year. Today’s 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 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.