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Columbia Chinook Gives Sierra Nevada Corps Spacecraft a Lift

By S.L. Fuller | September 1, 2017

A Columbia Helicopters Chinook carried Sierra Nevada Corp.’s spacecraft on a flight Wednesday. This successful Captive Carry test took place at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center as part of the Dream Chaser aircraft’s Phase Two flight test efforts.

The Dream Chaser is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle. Sierra Nevada Corp. said it is capable transporting items to and from low-Earth orbit, and is the only commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of a runway landing. Dream Chaser was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the International Space Station.

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During the first carry test, the Chinook carried Dream Chaser to the same altitude and flight conditions Dream Chaser experiences before release on a Free Flight test. The company said the test obtained data and evaluated systems, including radar altimeters, the navigation system and more.

A second Captive Carry test is scheduled for later this year. The company said it will incorporate lessons learned from the first test. If that is successful, the spacecraft would be able to perform Free Flight tests.

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