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Posted 07 August 2014 - 19:31
Posted 09 August 2014 - 02:22
Sierra Nevada On Track For Restart Of Lifting Body Flight Tests
SAN DIEGO Sierra Nevada Space Systems is readying the refurbished engineering test article (ETA) version of its Dream Chaser lifting body vehicle for a new series of flight tests this fall and says assembly of the first space-capable version of the vehicle is on track for an orbital test flight in November 2016.
The company, which is competing with the Dream Chaser against capsule designs from Boeing and SpaceX for a contract to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASAs Commercial Crew Program, is more than 90% through the qualification program.
"We see our vehicle as more of an SUV for servicing of the ISS as well as to make low Earth orbit accessible for all of us," says Sierra Nevada Space Systems President Mark Sirangelo.
Speaking at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2014 conference here, Sirangelo says, "We have entered critical design review [CDR] and have completed nine of the subsystems that needed to be done. We have passed a significant group of CDRs on various subsystems ranging from the actuator controls to the cabin full-scale mockup."
Overall Sierra has completed 30 milestones and is more than 92% of the way through the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) contract. Under a recently granted extension, Sierra now has until March 2015 to complete these milestones, rather than the end of August 2014 as previously scheduled.
Sierra also submitted certification documents for the Dream Chaser to NASA and "received the highest grades we could on it," Sirangelo says. The structures for two orbital test vehicles (OTVs) are under assembly at Lockheed Martins Michoud site in New Orleans, with final assembly due to take place at Lockheeds Fort Worth site starting in late 2015. The first vehicle is booked for launch in November 2016 on an Atlas V and will be unmanned. However, two flights are required for certification and a crewed launch will follow in 2017.
Commenting on plans for the upcoming atmospheric flight tests at Edwards AFB, California, Sirangelo says, "We got so much good data [from the first flight on Oct. 26, 2013], we didnt need to do a second flight, even though we had an issue with the vehicle." The vehicle overturned on landing after one of the main landing legs failed to deploy. This was later traced to contamination of the hydraulic fluid, he adds. For the upcoming tests, "We will do between two and five additional flights. A couple will be crewed. As a result of the vehicle being upgraded, we will be flying our orbital flight software, which will give us about a years worth of advancement on the vehicle." Flights are expected to last over a six- to nine-month period, he adds.
Posted Today, 05:52