Dream Chaser Model Undergoes Drop Tests in California Desert

Northwest Helicopter’s Steve Watson holds the cable for launch of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser scale model on it’s first captive-carry flight on Dec. 7, 2010, as pilot Doug Uttecht maneuvers Northwest’s Bell 206 Jet Ranger to take it up. NASA photo / Tony Landis.


NASA Dryden supported helicopter air-drop flight tests of a 5-foot-long, 15-percent scale model of the Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser spacecraft design under a Space Act Agreement between the two organizations.

The company’s planned full-size Dream Chaser vehicle, based on the NASA HL-20 lifting body, is designed to carry up to seven people to the International Space Station and back. The vehicle is slated to launch vertically on an Atlas V rocket and land horizontally on conventional runways.

Dryden provided ground and range safety support, including a T-34 chase aircraft for photo and video imagery. The Center also provided scheduling and flight test operations engineering support, along with hangar facilities and workspace.

“Working with the SNC/CU team was a privilege. Their teamwork and dedication were phenomenal, especially through a very dynamic, tiring week of testing,” said Jonathan Pickrel, NASA Dryden’s flight operations engineer overseeing the testing.

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