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Dream Chaser space plane successfully completes test flight

Dream Chaser space plane successfully completes test flight

Prototype spacecraft Dream Chaser has successfully completed its first glide test flight nearly two years after securing a multi-billion dollar contract from Nasa.

In previous tests this year a helicopter carried the Dream Chaser aloft but did not release it. The Dream Chaser, however, which is meant to launch on top of an Atlas V rocket, glides down to Earth like a plane after reentering the atmosphere, landing horizontally on a runway. Sierra Nevada representatives announced on Twitter Saturday.

The Dream Chaser is being developed to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station without a crew aboard.

11 that its Dream Chaser test article successfully performed a glide flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The company said several hours after the test that the glide flight was a success, and would release more details November 13.

Dream Chaser looks much like a miniature version of a NASA space shuttle.

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Two other companies, SpaceX and Orbital ATK, will use their own spacecraft to fly delivery missions for NASA as part of the CRS-2 program.

SNC is planning to deliver cargo to the ISS in 2019 and is expected to fly "at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024".

Main objective of test flight was verifying ability of guidance system for independent flight and landing. The first one, back in 2013, didn't go all that smoothly: the vehicle's landing gears failed, causing the spaceplane to crash land and then skid off the runway.

It's been in development by the Sparks, Nevada, company for more than 10 years.