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Mini space shuttle skids off runway in test flight

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Dream Chaser Flight Vehicle. Photo: NASA.

CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA (AP): A new, smaller version of NASA's space shuttle is recuperating from a rough first landing.

The Dream Chaser space plane is being designed by Sierra Nevada Corp. It's intended to one day carry space station astronauts.

The Nevada-based company tested a full-scale model at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Saturday. A helicopter dropped the unmanned craft from 12,500 feet. Everything worked well until the end, when the left landing gear deployed too late. The test vehicle skidded off the runway.

Company space systems chief Mark Sirangelo says damage was minor. He says the left gear was still attached and the tire wasn't shredded.

Sirangelo says the mishap is likely due to mechanical failure. He says it shouldn't delay plans for a piloted landing test next year.

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