The Dream Chaser spacecraft developed specifically for bringing supplied to the ISS is in the testing stages and passed a test for approach and landing on Saturday. They're created to be used 15 or more times and have autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities, according to Sierra Nevada Corp.
Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser looks like an airplane but flies like a spacecraft.
Commercial crew was a follow-on to the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) or "commercial cargo" program that led to the SpaceX and Orbital ATK uncrewed systems that resupply ISS today - Falcon 9/Dragon and Antares/Cygnus.
Slung below the helicopter on a 200-foot (61-meter) tether, the full-scale atmospheric test version of the Dream Chaser was hoisted to an altitude of 12,324 feet (3,756 meters) and released.
On November 11, commercial missions took another step forward with a successful test flight from Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser, which is due to first ferry cargo to the International Space Station around 2019. NASA promised to purchase at least six cargo flights each from SpaceX, Orbital ATK, and SNC. The company promised to release more test flight details, images and video on Monday (Nov. 13).
Sirangelo compared the tests with this vehicle to those flown by NASA in 1977 of the space shuttle orbiter Enterprise.
The unmanned aircraft made a soft landing at Edwards Base last Saturday during the free flight test at the Armstrong Flight Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). "This advances our program and the Dream Chaser towards orbital flight, while meeting the final milestone for our NASA CCiCap [Commercial Crew integrated Capability] agreement and supporting milestone 5 of the CRS-2 contract".
This is the vehicle's first flight in four years and its first successful landing demonstration.
Dream Chaser is a space apparatus which can be used many times. It's also designed with a "lifting body" meaning it can land nearly anywhere.
The Dream Chaser Cargo System will launch atop an Atlas V rocket.
SNC hopes to fly the first Dream Chaser to the ISS as early as 2020.