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Video: SNC Dream Chaser 'Space Shuttle' Free-Flight Test: Successful, With A Problem

 This just released video shows the first free-flight test of the Sierra Nevada Corporation 'Dream Chaser' spaceplane on Saturday October 26, 2013. While the Dream Chaser will have the capability to carry up to seven crew members, this flight test was carried out with no one onboard using the automated flight control system. The video shows the lifting body space-shuttle-like vehicle being released from the Erikson Air-Crane helicopter and then flying extremely stable and right on glide path thru the short flight (less than one minute) and includes the approach to runway 22L at Edwards Air Force Base.

 What isn't seen in this video is the aftermath of the touchdown when the left landing gear failed to extend. During the flare the right main and nose gear deployed properly but for reasons yet unknown, the left main did not deploy. Some reports indicate that the vehicle sustained significant damage due to loss of control after touchdown.

 While the landing gear issue and subsequent damage to the test vehicle is certainly a setback, the team has much to celebrate with this test. A teleconference scheduled for later today will give insight into the damage to Dream Chaser and how the mishap will affect the program.

 It's interesting to note that it appears that the landing gear on this particular Dream Chaser, known as the engineering test article (ETA) which is not intended for any space flights, is not the same design as will be on the flight test article (FTA). I'm sure we'll here more about these details before long.

Video screenshot of the Dream Chaser about to land without left main gear extended


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Reader Comments (1)

Fuzzy dice hanging in the windshield. Heh!

October 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterairpigz lurker

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