Dream Chaser Undergoes Captive Carry Test at Edwards
(Source: Air Force Materiel Command; issued Aug 30, 2017)
The Dream Chaser prepares for a captive carry test Aug. 30 at Edwards AFB, California. (USAF photo)
EDWARDS AFB, Calif. --- Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser underwent a captive carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center here Aug. 30. The test was part of the spacecraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts to advance the orbiter closer to space flight, according to an SNC press release.

A Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter carried the Dream Chaser over Edwards for about an hour. The goal was to reach an altitude and flight conditions the spacecraft would experience before being released on a free flight test, said company officials.

The Dream Chaser was delivered to Armstrong Jan. 25 to undergo several months of testing at the center in preparation for its upcoming approach and landing flight on one of Edwards AFB’s runways.

The test series is part of a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The test campaign will help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser, according to NASA.

Lee Archambault, SNC director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program, said in a press release, “We are very pleased with the results from the captive carry test and everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing.”

The Aug. 30 captive carry test is one of two planned at Edwards for this year. The test obtained data and evaluated both individual and overall system performance, said the release. If the second captive carry test is a success, it will clear the way for a free-flight test.

The Dream Chaser is also being prepared to deliver cargo to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024, according to NASA.

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Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser Spacecraft has Successful Captive Carry Test
(Source: Sierra Nevada Corporation; issued Aug 30, 2017)
SPARKS, Nev. --- Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser engineering test article passed a successful Captive Carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center on Wednesday as part of the Phase Two flight test efforts to advance Dream Chaser progress toward orbital flight.

“We are very pleased with results from the Captive Carry test, and everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing,” said Lee “Bru” Archambault, SNC’s director of flight operations for the Dream Chaser program.

These activities are being conducted through a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), although the Phase Two flight tests will also be highly supportive of, and executed in parallel with continued work being done by SNC under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. The Dream Chaser test vehicle has been upgraded to include several components being integrated into the Dream Chaser Cargo System design, allowing Phase Two tests to act as a bridge between previous work with CCP and the next-generation vehicle currently under development for cargo resupply missions.

During Captive Carry test #1, a Columbia Helicopters Model 234-UT Chinook helicopter successfully carried the Dream Chaser to the same altitude and flight conditions Dream Chaser experiences before release on a Free Flight test.

The SNC Mission Control Center team sent commands to Dream Chaser, monitored performance and collected critical test data designed to allow the team to refine Dream Chaser systems for peak performance on the actual Free Flight test day.

The Captive Carry test obtained data, evaluated systems such as radar altimeters, flush air data system, air data probes, navigation system, as well as overall system performance in a flight environment.

Successful data analysis, flight crew and flight control team proficiency, are critical ingredients needed for Certification of Flight Readiness. All technical info from the Captive Carry flight tests will be evaluated by the SNC engineering team and shared with NASA counterparts.

This Captive Carry test is one of two scheduled for 2017. Another Captive Carry test, designated Captive Carry #2, will incorporate fine tuning needs or lessons learned from today’s test flight. A fully successful Captive Carry #2 test, once completed, clears the way for the Dream Chaser Free Flight test.

“This test is another indication the Dream Chaser is on track for meeting our key milestones on the way to orbital spaceflight. We are excited to move through the remaining ground and flight testing to help inform our CRS2 orbital vehicle design and upcoming production,” said Steve Lindsey, vice president of Space Exploration Systems for SNC.

The Free Flight test is scheduled for later this year.

Owned and operated by SNC, the Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle. It is capable of transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station (ISS) resides, and is the only commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of a runway landing. The Dream Chaser Cargo System was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract.


Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) provides customer-focused advanced technology solutions in the areas of space, aviation, electronics and systems integration. SNC’s Space Systems business area based in Louisville, Colorado, designs and manufactures advanced spacecraft, space vehicles, rocket motors and spacecraft subsystems and components.

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