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Private Space Plane Passes Runway Tests 

A privately built space plane successfully completed a series of key tests earlier this month, as part of an ongoing effort to judge the winged vehicle's ability to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station one day.

The Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Dream Chaser space plane underwent several "ground tow tests" on Aug. 2 at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in southern California. These tests are designed to assess the spacecraft's braking and runway landing systems, according to NASA officials.

"We are very excited to complete this series of tests and achieve another critical milestone for our Dream Chaser flight test program," Steve Lindsey, Sierra Nevada's space systems senior director of programs and a former NASA astronaut, said in a statement. [Meet the Dream Chaser Space Planet (Photos)]

The results of the ground exercises will help Sierra Nevada prepare for future Dream Chaser flight tests, officials said.

"The dedicated Dream Chaser team has been putting the test spacecraft through comprehensive integrated testing on the runway, ramps and hangar of the historic California site, finding issues on the ground and addressing them in preparation for upcoming free flights," Cheryl McPhillips, a NASA official working with Sierra Nevada as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) program, said in a statement. ...more

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