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Mon, Oct 28, 2013

Dream Chaser Suffers Landing Gear Failure After First Flight

Left Main Gear Failure Mars Otherwise Stunning Flight

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser lifting body spacecraft conducted its maiden flight at the Dryden Flight Research Center last Saturday. However, mechanical failure during landing resulted in it flipping over on the runway.

SNC’s Dream Chaser is one of three vehicles selected by NASA for their Commercial Crew Development Program. The Dream Chaser carries on a developmental history of lifting body aircraft that started in the mid 1950’s, but was abandoned during the race for the moon for the simpler space capsule and parachute combination. But now, SNC believes their spacecraft will continue the legacy of the Space Shuttle in transporting crews to the International Space Station.
 
After being released from an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter, the unmanned Dream Chaser’s automated flight control system steered the vehicle. The vehicle adhered to the design flight trajectory throughout the flight profile. Less than a minute after release, Dream Chaser touched down at Edwards Air Force Base.
 
While the failure of the left landing gear after touchdown led to the accident, SNC reported that the high-quality flight and telemetry data throughout all phases of the approach-and-landing test will allow SNC teams to continue to refine their spacecraft design.

SNC issued a statement noting, "The vehicle successfully released from its carrier aircraft, an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter, as planned at approximately 11:10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Following release, the Dream Chaser spacecraft automated flight control system gently steered the vehicle to its intended glide slope. The vehicle adhered to the design flight trajectory throughout the flight profile. Less than a minute later, Dream Chaser smoothly flared and touched down on Edwards Air Force Base’s Runway 22L right on centerline. While there was an anomaly with the left landing gear deployment, the high-quality flight and telemetry data throughout all phases of the approach-and-landing test will allow SNC teams to continue to refine their spacecraft design. SNC and NASA Dryden are currently reviewing the data. As with any space flight test program, there will be anomalies that we can learn from, allowing us to improve our vehicle and accelerate our rate of progress."

Adapted from an F-5 landing gear, the system was already scheduled to be replaced on future vehicles.

FMI: www.sncspace.com, www.SNCDreamChaser.com

 


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