The Dream Chaser Spacecraft

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The company won a Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract from NASA in 2016 to transport cargo to and from the ISS.

Dream Chaser was carrying the same space-grade avionics that it'll use for ISS missions, Sierra Nevada said.

Dream Chaser is a derivative project from NASA's 1990s HL-20 Launch System, which in turn was inspired by the Soviet Spiral program, a series of spacecraft developed for space warfare and orbital-glide bombing since the late 1960s. The flight was a final funded milestone in the Space Act Agreement that Sierra Nevada Corporation has with NASA as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability effort. The company expects to start cargo missions sometime in 2020. (5,500 kilograms) of cargo to the International Space Station. Orbital ATK's capsule - known as Cygnus - is then created to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere once it leaves the station, while SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsule can survive the descent to Earth, using parachutes to land in the ocean.

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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. Ten years into development, the spacecraft completed a successful free-flight drop test in the Mojave Desert in November 2017. Unlike a capsule that might land in a remote area, Dream Chaser can quickly return experiments to waiting researchers. It was the second glide test for the project.

Sierra Nevada Corporation confirmed that test flight was finished with success. Sierra Nevada plans to give more details on the test during a press conference this afternoon.

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