Sierra Nevada Company introduced Thursday that its Dream Chaser spacecraft had handed the most recent in a sequence of NASA milestone checks, seemingly setting the stage for the aerospace agency to launch the primary of its unmanned provide missions in early 2021.

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Heralded because the successor to NASA’s house shuttle, the Louisville-born car will carry provides, science experiments and different cargo to the Worldwide House Station with none crew on board. After a number of years of design and improvement, the mission was given the official go-ahead from NASA in December.

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The newest check, described in a information launch as NASA’s Built-in Evaluation Milestone 5, included demonstrations of the car’s flight computer systems and software program, mission simulator and mission management middle. The corporate additionally was examined on its cargo capabilities utilizing “excessive constancy mock-ups of the car and its cargo module, displaying loading and unloading time and effectivity.”

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In an announcement, Sierra Nevada’s CRS-2 Program Director John Curry stated, “This milestone is a superb accomplishment for the group targeted on operations improvement and demonstration. It reveals we are able to function the Dream Chaser from the bottom, together with getting essential science out and in of the car.”

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When the spacecraft does finally take flight, the plan is to launch it atop a rocket from Florida’s Cape Canaveral and for the craft to make use of the ability’s runway on its return.

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