By Ria Novosti
A prototype “space plane” that is being developed to transport American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) sustained damage during its first free-flying test after its landing gear failed to deploy properly, according to US media reports.The Dream Chaser space vehicle was reported to have flipped over on the runway last weekend in an early report from NASASpaceflight.com, although a subsequent report from NBC.com suggested the incident may have been less dramatic: “The damage has yet to be fully assessed, but preliminary reports suggest that the prototype can be repaired after its tumble on the runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California.”
Nobody was reported injured.
This was the first time during testing that the Dream Chaser had been released from a carrier aircraft to glide freely over California’s Mojave Desert.
Dream Chaser, developed by Sparks, Nevada-based Sierra Nevada, is one of three commercial crew carrying programs to have received funding from NASA.
The US space agency is looking for a replacement for its space shuttle program, which was retired in 2011.
Described as a “miniature space shuttle,” the vehicle can carry seven passengers and is about 29.5 feet (9 m) long and has a wingspan of 22.9 feet (7 m).
Dream Chaser is the only reusable winged aircraft being developed under the program which has so far cost over $1 billion, NBC.com reported Sunday. SpaceX and Boeing, the other firms which have received funding, are developing space capsules.
NASA hopes at least one of the new space craft will be ready by 2017. The agency currently flies astronauts to and from the ISS on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. – Eurasia Review
By Ria Novosti