Dream Chaser passes wind-tunnel testing

LOUISVILLE – Sierra Nevada Corp. on Monday announced that it has received the full award of $20 million for completing the latest milestone in NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability agreement.

The award is for SNC’s Dream Chaser spacecraft passing wind-tunnel testing, or CiCap Milestone 8.

Dream Chaser, being developed by Nevada-based SNC’s Space Systems division in Louisville, is slated for its first unmanned orbital flight in 2016, with a manned flight to follow in 2017.

Milestone 8 helped advance design of Dream Chaser as it relates to the flight dynamics the vehicle will face during ascent and re-entry. Several scale-model Dream Chasers underwent different wind-tunnel tests, including with an attached United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle.

The tests were completed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, the CALSPAN Transonic Wind Tunnel in New York and NASA’s Langley Research Center Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel in Virginia.

“The aerodynamic data collected during these tests has further proven and validated Dream Chaser’s integrated spacecraft and launch vehicle system design,” Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems division, said in a release. “It also has shown that Dream Chaser’s expected performance is greater than initially predicted.”

The composite shell of the Dream Chaser vehicle that will make the first trip to space is being built in Louisiana by Lockheed Martin, while various systems and components continue to be built in Louisville.

A test vehicle that completed a successful October flight test in California, which is being outfitted for further flight tests later this year, was built in Louisville.

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