It is important moment for Sierra Nevada Corporation and whole CRS2 program. Full scale test model of their Dream Chaser spacecraft will enter soon next phase of flight tests.
According to Sierra Nevada yesterday Dream Chaser became ready to be transported for next flight tests necessary to pass certification for missions under Commercial Resupply Services 2 program, which covers missions with cargo for International Space Station in years 2019-2024. Earlier this month SNC announced about receiving NASA approval for ISS Integration Certification Milestone 1 covering acceptance of design, development, test and evaluation program of Dream Chaser. It opened way for flight tests scheduled for late 2016 and planned to be conducted in NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) in the cooperation with Edwards Air Force Base (AFB). These flight tests will cover tow-tests, pre-flight tests and free flight tests. During these trials SNC will verify new flight software and try how Dream Chaser behaves in flight with special emphasis of handling, performance and aerodynamic parameters in subsonic flight. Before flight test, vehicle will pass multiple detailed examinations of all systems and subsystems to perform complete evaluation of progress in adapting to the requirements of CRS2.
It is key moment for Sierra Nevada Corporation, because this model of Dream Chaser is kind of second phase of evolution between version designed for Commercial Crew Program and ultimate version for CRS2. Differences are referring to new hardware elements and software upgrades, which will be carefully tested in flight to confirm if evolution from manned spacecraft to cargo vehicle is getting into good direction.
Flight model, which will be delivered to trials, is same used in October 2013 for tests in Armstrong Flight Research Center when Dream Chaser was still part of the Commercial Crew Program. Modifications of model were completed in Louisville, where SNC has its spacecraft assembly facility.