NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden visited the space agency's Dryden Flight Research Center on May 22, taking the opportunity to see the Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser test vehicle that had arrived at the center a week earlier.
Bolden, SNC's Director of Flight Operations and former NASA astronaut Steve Lindsey and Patrick Stoliker, deputy director of NASA Dryden, outlined the coming ground and flight tests for the Dream Chaser to news media representatives gathered in a hangar at the NASA field center.
[i][b]Above[/b]: Steve Lindsey, Sierra Nevada Corporation, or SNC, director of flight operations and former space shuttle astronaut, talks to the media about the development work Sierra Nevada Corporation, or SNC, will perform in collaboration with NASA's Commercial Crew Program, or CCP, with its Dream Chaser flight test vehicle at the agency's Dryden Flight Research Center in the coming months. At left is NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. At right is Dryden Flight Research Deputy Center Director Patrick Stoliker.[/i] (Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida)
SNC is preparing the vehicle for tow, captive-carry and free-flight tests later this year. The testing is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) initiatives to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. It is one of three spacecraft being developed for that role under the CCP program, the others being Boeing's CST-100 capsule and a crewed version of Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) Dragon capsule. The Dream Chaser is the only one designed to make a soft airplane-style landing on a runway, similar to landings of the now-retired space shuttles.
The Dream Chaser Space System is based on NASA's "Horizontal Lander" HL-20 lifting body design concept. The upcoming flight tests will provide data on the spacecraft's aerodynamic performance during subsonic approach and landing on a traditional runway. The tests are part of pre-negotiated, paid-for-performance milestones with CCP, which is facilitating commercial, U.S.-led development of spacecraft and rockets that can launch from American soil.
[i][b]Above[/b]: Plastic wrapping that protected the Sierra Nevada Corporation, or SNC, Dream Chaser flight test vehicle during its transport from Colorado is carefully removed by SNC employee Will Armijo following the craft's arrival at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in southern California.[/i] (Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida)
While at Dryden, Bolden also met with SNC's ground and flight-test staff, flew approach-and-landing simulations for the Dream Chaser, addressed an employee town hall and was briefed by center management on current programs, projects and operations at the center.