NASA's new Commercial Crew Program has yielded a partnership with Sierra Nevada Space Systems and Tuesday the duo tested their full-scale Dream Chaser orbital crew vehicle with a "captive carry test".
The flight vehicle was carried beneath an Erickson Air-Crane helicopter to assess the vehicle's aerodynamic flight properties. The test will save as a basis for future tests on the craft.
The test was approximately an hour long and took place near the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County, Colorado. The Dream Chaser is designed to carry up to seven astronauts into space, but more importantly, it is a first step toward commercial companies working with NASA to design and deliver technology capable of taking man into space.
NASA CCP Program Manager Ed Mango comments on the milestone:
"This is a very positive success for the Dream Chaser team and their innovative approach,"
"I applaud and encourage the designers and engineers to continue their efforts in meeting the objectives of the rest of their CCDev2 milestones."
Steve Lindsey, former NASA astronaut and head of Dream Chaser's flight operations for SNC also comments on the success of the tests:
"The successful captive carry flight test of the Dream Chaser full scale flight vehicle marks the beginning of SNC's flight test program, a program that could culminate in crewed missions to the International Space Station for NASA,"
Take a look at a spectator's YouTube video of the captive carry test:
(Lead Image courtesy of Sierra Nevada Corp: Artist's rendering shows Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft docking at the International Space Station)