Watch SNC’s mini-space shuttle ace flight test

Last weekend’s drop test of a prototype Dream Chaser space plane went so well that the next flight might be the one that goes all the way to the International Space Station in 2020, Sierra Nevada Corp. executives said today.

The road ahead depends on the performance data that was gained when the engineering test article glided down to a picture-perfect runway landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Nov. 11.

But if the results are as positive as preliminary readouts suggest, the 30-foot-long plane can go into retirement after just two free-flying tests, said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC’s Space Systems business area. “This vehicle will not need further flight tests,” he told reporters.

The data from the test will be used to fine-tune the design for a space-worthy version of the Dream Chaser, which is due to take shape over the next couple of years.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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