A prototype of a commercial space flight , which aims at carrying U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS ) suffered damage during the first test flight after the landing gear did not deploy properly.
Prototype commercial spaceship Dream Chaser suffered “minor damage” while skidding off runway after “successful” test flight (© Wikimedia Commons, Ken Ulbrich)
According to initial information provided by NASASpaceflight.com
, Dream Chaser space vehicle overturned on the runway last Saturday, although a subsequent NBC.com
report on the incident suggested that the situation was less dramatic: “the damage will be fully assessed, but preliminary reports suggest that the prototype can be repaired after skidding off the runway at Edwards Air Force Base in California.”
Despite the landing gear mishap which caused the small commercial space plane to skid off the runway following its first unmanned flight, an official with builder claimed on Tuesday that the malfunction caused quite minor damage, while the test flight of the winged “lifting body” design was considered a success.
“99% of the test flight that we really wanted to get — which was does this vehicle fly, is it able to be controlled, does the software work, can it autonomously fly the vehicle in, can we acquire the runway and land — all of that was 100 percent successful,” said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of the builder Sierra Nevada, cited by CBSnews.
It was the first time during testing when the Dream Chaser was disconnected from the aircraft carrier to be allowed to fly freely over the Mojave Desert in California.
Dream Chaser developed by Division Sparks of the company Sierra Nevada, is one of three commercial programs aiming at transporting crew into space that have received funding from NASA.
The U.S. space agency is looking for a replacement for the space shuttles that were withdrawn in 2011.
Described as a “miniature space shuttle”, Dream Chaser space plane can carry seven passengers and has a length of 9 meters and a wingspan of 7 meters.
Dream Chaser is the only developing reusable plane in a program whose costs amounts to more than $1 billion, informs NBC.com. SpaceX and Boeing are the other companies that have received funding, but they try to develop space capsule.
NASA hopes that at least one of the new spacecraft will be ready by 2017. Currently , the Agency sends its astronauts on the ISS by calling for help from the Russian spacecraft Soyuz.