Dream Chaser, which is about a quarter of the size of NASA's old shuttles, was added by NASA a year ago as a fourth privately-developed space ferry option. The reusable craft is considered flawless for this task since it's smoother return will ensure the preservation of precious scientific specimens on board.
The previous one took place in October 2013 but was marred by a landing gear failure, which caused the Dream Chaser ETA to skid off the runway.
NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center said in November 11 statement that the glide flight "verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the critical final approach and landing phase of flight". The flexible aircraft can also be rapidly turned around and reused for future flights.
The success of the flight test likely marks the last milestone for a $227.5 million contract awarded to Sierra Nevada in 2012 for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) program.More news: Chevrolet unveils latest Corvette ZR1 with a massive 6.2-liter V8 engine
According to Nasa, the flight test "helped advance the vehicle under Nasa's Commercial Crew Program space act agreement, as well as helped prepare the vehicle for service under Nasa's Commercial Resupply Services 2 program".
The Dream Chaser prototype spacecraft passed a big test yesterday, gliding to a successful landing on a runway in the Mojave Desert after it was dropped from a helicopter. They're created to be used 15 or more times and have autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities, according to Sierra Nevada Corp. (5,500 kilograms) of cargo to the International Space Station.
The spacecraft will be launched on top of Atlas V rockets built by the United Launch Alliance and on its return to Earth it will land on the runway. A company called SpaceDev resurrected the design, but after its founder left to form a space tourism company, SpaceDev was purchased by Sierra Nevada in 2008. A first flight of the Dream Chaser Cargo System is scheduled for 2020, with a minimum of six flights through 2024 under the contract.