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Dream Chaser passes a big milestone with a successful glide test landing

14 November 2017

Along with SpaceX and Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada is under contract from NASA for as many as six cargo flights to the station.

The company did not announce the test in advance, but it was widely thought to be imminent.

"The lifting-body design gives Dream Chaser a higher lift-to-drag ratio and allows for greater cross-range landing capability, meaning the landing zone (or places where it can land) is greatly increased", said the company. Its on-board guidance system lined up the spacecraft with the runway during the steep final approach.

The Dream Chaser suffered a setback in 2013 when the craft's landing gear did not completely deploy during a landing test and it skidded to a stop on the runway.

Deliveries to the International Space Station might be made by a new craft as early as 2019. Since then, Sierra Nevada has been modifying the Dream Chaser to just carry cargo. The company also has a contract with the United Nations to launch payloads into orbit on the Dream Chaser.

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Since then, they've had an on-again off-again relationship with NASA. They're created to be used 15 or more times and have autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities, according to Sierra Nevada Corp.

SNC is one of the three private companies, which include Oribtal ATK and SpaceX, selected by the U.S. space agency to transport supplies to the International Space Station for the next eight years in a deal potentially worth 14 billion USA dollars (£10bn).

- A mini-shuttle that one day may ferry supplies and astronauts to the space station is one small step closer to space after a successful test flight over the weekend.

The first actual spaceflight of the Dream Chaser is planned for 2020. The Dream Chaser, however, which is meant to launch on top of an Atlas V rocket, glides down to Earth like a plane after reentering the atmosphere, landing horizontally on a runway.

Dream Chaser passes a big milestone with a successful glide test landing