Dream Chaser successfully completes glide flight

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Dream Chaser, which is about a quarter of the size of NASA's old shuttles, was added by NASA previous year as a fourth privately-developed space ferry option.

The Dream Chaser spacecraft made a "beautiful flight and landing" during a second glide test on Saturday, according to its producer, Sierra Nevada Corporation.

In August, the Dream Chaser was flown through the air for more than two hours during a captive-carry test while attached to a helicopter.

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Below, photos and renderings of the new spacecraft. Sierra Nevada initially designed the Dream Chaser to carry astronauts, but the company has since reworked the design to be an autonomous cargo spaceplane.

In 2014, the space agency announced it would only fund the Dream Chaser rival programs, SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft, for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap). The craft has been in the works for more than 10 years and in 2016 the company was awarded the contract to transport cargo to and from the ISS for NASA. It is about 30 feet long (9 meters) and capable of hauling up to 12,125 lbs. Right now, two companies - SpaceX and Orbital ATK - hold contracts with NASA to periodically resupply the station through 2018. The plan is for the Dream Chaser to fly a minimum of six missions to the ISS by 2024, says NASA. It will lift off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 booster from Cape Canaveral, and will touch down on the runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center said in November 11 statement that the glide flight "verified and validated the performance of the Dream Chaser in the critical final approach and landing phase of flight". "The testing will validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser".

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