As the year winds to a close, the Dream Chaser space plane designed to continue NASA’s shuttle program will be preparing to begin its second phase of atmospheric flight tests. Scheduled for 2016, the tests will be held at the Armstrong Flight Research Center.
A simulation of what the Dream Chaser can do can be seen in this video—where it highlights its autonomous driving capabilities and flexibility to accommodate a human pilot.
"Upon completion, the Dream Chaser orbital vehicle will be the most advanced composite structure ever built. We look forward to Dream Chaser becoming the world leader in this area and to its first orbital flight," says Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of Sierra Nevada's space systems division.
To date, the Dream Chaser spacecraft is the only reusable, lifting-body, multi-mission-capabale vehicle that can accommodate commercial runway landing anywhere in the world. It is recognized as a safe, flexible, and reliable system. And it can transport manned or unmanned missions to low-Earth orbital destinations, including the International Space Station, and a relatively low cost.