Dream Chaser Completes Captive Carry Test at NASA Armstrong [00:01:35]

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser completed an important milestone toward orbital flight on Wednesday, Aug. 30, with a successful captive carry test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, located on Edwards Air Force Base. A helicopter successfully carried a Dream Chaser test article, which has the same specifications as a flight-ready spacecraft, to the same altitude and flight conditions of an upcoming free flight test.

The captive carry is part of a series of tests for a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The data from the tests help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser.

The Dream Chaser is a lifting-body, winged spacecraft that will fly back to Earth in a manner similar to NASA’s space shuttles. The successful captive carry test clears the way for a free flight test of the spacecraft later this year in which the uncrewed Dream Chaser will be released to glide on its own and land.

The test campaign will also help finalize the design for cargo version of the Dream Chaser in preparation for the spacecraft to deliver cargo to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract beginning in 2019. The cargo Dream Chaser will fly at least six resupply missions to and from the space station by 2024.

Hydroxylherderite The apatite group of minerals (see…


The apatite group of minerals (see http://bit.ly/2akYWkg) encompasses quite a variety of species, with this variant being a beryllium rich calcium phosphate. Like in the rest of the family, ions of similar size and charge such as OH and fluorine commonly substitute for each other in the crystal lattice alongside the beryllium and calcium, with the final product a result of the composition of the mother fluid from which the piece in question crystallised.

Colour varies from yellow through brown to green or purple, though colourless specimens also turn up. It forms in granitic melts, usually crystallising in pegmatites, the last fluid rich parts of the magma that have concentrated all the rare and unusual elements that do not fit into the more common minerals’ lattices. It forms in the late stages of crystallisation, often in cavities as water and steam rage together in the magma’s last dying gasps. Another formation method is by alteration of minerals such as beryl, and precipitation from in veins.

It was discovered in Saxony in 1828 and named after a local mining official (a bit like Goethite was named after another better known mining official, this time from Weimar, see http://bit.ly/2aVMCHNfor a biopic). The hydroxy was added when this variant was discovered in 1894, and most specimens labelled Herderite are in fact this version.

Locations include Brazil, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Namibia, Russia, Spain, England and the USA, though this pair rare purple specimens sitting on blue topaz (7.5 x 6.0 x 4.5 cm , see http://bit.ly/2jQ7sB0 for topaz) was mined in the Minas Gerais province of Brazil.


Image credit: Joe Budd/ Rob Lavinsky/iRocks.com