Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser Space Plane Aces Free-Flight Drop Test

The Dream Chaser rolls out on Runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base California. Credit NASA

The company said several hours after the test that the glide flight was a success, and would release more details November 13.

- A mini-shuttle that one day may ferry supplies and astronauts to the space station is one small step closer to space after a successful test flight over the weekend.

Dream Chaser is a derivative project from NASA's 1990s HL-20 Launch System, which in turn was inspired by the Soviet Spiral program, a series of spacecraft developed for space warfare and orbital-glide bombing since the late 1960s.

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The uncrewed Dream Chaser made a smooth landing at Edwards Air Force Base during the free-flight test at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, NASA officials said in a statement. Sierra Nevada filed a protest, but the government's General Accounting Office upheld the decision.

Prototype spacecraft Dream Chaser has successfully completed its first glide test flight nearly two years after securing a multi-billion dollar contract from Nasa.

The Dream Chaser last flew in 2013, but a problem with its left landing gear meant it had a hard touchdown, which caused the plane to skid off the runway and sustain minor damage.

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They now have three conference losses, so they'll be behind even whichever team loses the Frogs-Sooners game Saturday night. Iowa State fell to 6-4, and the loss left it behind Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State and West Virginia in the Big 12 at 4-3.

It's been in development by the Sparks company for more than 10 years. Orbital ATK's capsule - known as Cygnus - is then created to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere once it leaves the station, while SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule can survive the descent to Earth, using parachutes to land in the ocean. Currently Orbital ATK and SpaceX run resupply missions to the ISS, but those contracts are up come 2018, leaving room for Sierra Nevada to swoop in. The spacecraft will launch on Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and make runway landings.

Of course, Dream Chaser is not the only mini-shuttle aiming for the stars. The Dream Chaser from Sierra Nevada offers more reliable landings than the other two now offer.

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