Sierra Nevada Corp. says its full-scale Dream Chaser test vehicle is at last ready to be sent to a NASA center in California, for a fresh round of checkouts that will culminate in a series of flights over the Mojave Desert.
The announcement comes three years after the uncrewed Dream Chaser prototype made its first free flight at California’s Edwards Air Force Base. A spaceworthy version of the shuttle-like winged craft is destined to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as soon as 2019, and eventually SNC wants to have it carry people as well.
Since the flight test in 2013, the prototype has been upgraded at SNC’s assembly facility in Colorado. Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems business area, said the vehicle would be shipped westward by truck. It’s due to arrive at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, near Edwards, by September.
The start of Phase 2 testing will represent a milestone for the 12-year-old Dream Chaser program.
“From my aviation background, it’s a little more than a rollout,” Sirangelo told GeekWire. “It’s a vehicle that’s actually ready to fly.”