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Dream Chaser space taxi debuts in California skies

TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~**MUST COURTESY "SNC SPACE SYSTEMS"**~ The space plane prototype known as the Dream Chaser has lift off. A heavy-lift helicopter carried the miniature space shuttle before releasing it for its debut test flight. The space taxi glided back to the runaway at the Edwards Air Force Base in Mojave, California. In video released by developer Sierra Nevada Corporation, a narrator says the prototype flew precisely according to plan. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NARRATOR, SAYING: "The vehicle adhered to its designed flight trajectory throughout the flight profile." But not everything went smoothly. One of the vehicle's three landing gears did not deploy, causing the plane to skid off the landing strip. Engineers are still assessing how much damaged was sustained. NASA hopes to book rides on the commercial carrier to transport its astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017.

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