Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems has successfully completed wind tunnel testing of a scale model of the Dream Chaser® orbital crew vehicle in the Oran W. Nicks Low Speed Wind Tunnel at Texas A&M University.
Aerodynamic data generated from this testing, coupled with data from computer simulations, will define the characteristics of the Dream Chaser® lifting body vehicle during the approach and landing phase of flight. This information will assist engineers in preparing for the Dream Chaser® vehicles first free flight test scheduled for the third quarter of this year.
The Dream Chaser® Program thanks the Texas A&M wind tunnel team for their support of this testing, which produced results that exceeded our expectations, said Mark Sirangelo, corporate vice president of SNC's Space Systems. "As the only lifting body vehicle currently funded by NASA under the Commercial Crew Development Program, we are thankful for the opportunity to verify our computational data in such an advanced facility. This is an important step in preparing for the vehicle's first free flight."
Dr. Dimitris Lagoudas, head of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, said, "The Department of Aerospace Engineering has been privileged to work with high caliber engineers from Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems and to be part of the wind tunnel testing of the scale model of the Dream Chaser®."
The Dream Chaser® team includes several Texas A&M graduates. Dr. Merri Sanchez, senior director of space exploration systems, and John Curry, director of systems integration, test, and operations for the Dream Chaser® both attribute their success in advancing the field of human spaceflight to their experience as students at Texas A&M.
"Texas A&M provided the foundation for us, as students, to excel in careers in aerospace engineering. We are proud to be working with the University on the Dream Chaser® Program, they are providing critical data that will inform the future of manned spaceflight," said Sanchez and Curry in a joint statement.
Explore further: First-of-its-kind NASA space-weather project