Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) today (Dec. 16) announced that the company has successfully completed all milestones under NASA's Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev2) phase. Milestones achieved include a systems requirement review, flight simulator development, creation of a vehicle avionics integration laboratory, system definition review, flight control integration laboratory, preliminary design review and the first free-flight test of the Dream Chaser
The final milestone, free-flight test Milestone 13, was executed Oct. 26, 2013 at Edwards Air Force Base in Edwards, Calif., in conjunction with NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The objective of the milestone was to lift the Dream Chaser spacecraft via a carrier vehicle to its designated release conditions then release the spacecraft for an unpiloted free-flight test in order to collect trajectory data during flight.
All expected trajectory and flight data, including the nominal glide slope and other aerodynamic data, were successfully demonstrated and collected in-flight. The Dream Chaser spacecraft's performance during flight exceeded predictions and requirements. After extensive post-flight analysis by NASA, SNC received the full award value for the milestone. The free-flight test of the flexible, lifting-body vehicle marked the culmination of years of design and scale model testing completed by SNC and NASA's Langley Research Center on both the SNC Dream Chaser vehicle and the heritage NASA vehicle, the HL-20.
"SNC is pleased to begin flight testing and to have successfully completed the CCDev2 agreement with passage of this most recent milestone," said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC's Space Systems. "Having the Dream Chaser flight exceed our expectations on its first autonomous flight was an extraordinary accomplishment for SNC, its team of industry, government and university partners, and all those who worked on the NASA heritage HL-20 vehicle that Dream Chaser is based on.
With CCDev2 now complete, SNC is committed to meeting all contracted milestones under its on-going agreement with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) during the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative.
"We thank NASA for the tremendous support we have received over the life of the CCDev2 agreement and look forward to continuing our strong working relationship in building the next-generation crew transportation vehicle," Sirangelo said. "Our goal is to restore America's leadership in human spaceflight and completing CCDev2 was a critical step along that path."
SNC is working with CCP as the company develops a next-generation crew transportation vehicle. Dream Chaser is the only reusable, lifting-body human spacecraft with a commercial runway landing capability, anywhere in the world. The Dream Chaser spacecraft is on the forefront of the commercial human spaceflight industry, offering safe, reliable and cost-effective crew and critical cargo transportation to low-Earth orbit.