One clear, sunny day this past May, the residents of Broomfield, Colorado spotted what was, for most of them, an unidentified flying object.
Surrounded by excited, shouting workers in American blue jeans and orange coveralls, an Erickson Aircrane helicopter hoisted the UFO up off its perch of rectangular white styrofoam and carried it in circles around the local airstrip. The workers took notes and pictures, the local news took even more pictures, and the resulting images went viral. That day, the world met Dream Chaser, the small spacecraft that Sierra Nevada Corporation hopes will become NASA's future ride to the International Space Station.
Dream Chaser recently completed its first milestone in the third round of NASA's Commercial Crew development program, CCiCap, and it's set to be dropped from a helicopter for first landing tests some time in November. It's the only flying spacecraft on NASA's short list of CCiCap partners; the other two are Apollo-like capsules designed to plummet back to Earth. For those who love it, Dream Chaser inspires enthusiasm because it reminds them of a Space Shuttle, and because it can do things that a capsule can't.
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Article by Dave Klingler (c) Ars Technica - Read full story here.