The company has now offered the public the first fiery look at the engine that will propel it through space, with missions for NASA slated to kick off the year after next.
Since its first attempt at gliding test flight left it upside down on the airstrip way back in 2013, the road has been a relatively smooth one for Sierra Nevada's reusable orbital vehicle. That incident led to a total refurbishment and it then completed its first captive carry test flight in August 2017 where a Chinook helicopter hoisted it into the air, and then its first successful gliding flight and landing test just a few months later.
The Dream Chaser is designed to be launcher agnostic, meaning it could be lifted into space with the help of a number of different rockets. But the propulsion technology Sierra Nevada publicly demonstrated for the first time last week is an upper stage engine, meaning it will ignite at high altitudes and propel vehicles like the Dream Chaser as they travel through the upper parts of the atmosphere.