Sierra Nevada Corporation's spacecraft resembling a mini space shuttle was successfully carried over the Mojave Desert by a helicopter on Wednesday.
The Dream Chaser test flight, which happened at 7:21 a.m. at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center on Edwards Air Force Base, California, served as a precursor to a free flight.
The company said the Dream Chaser was carried to the same altitude and flight conditions it will experience before release in a free flight. In addition, in a free flight, the spacecraft would autonomously land on a runway after returning from orbit.
“We are very pleased with results from the Captive Carry test, and everything we have seen points to a successful test with useful data for the next round of testing,” director of flight operations Lee "Bru" Archambault said in a statement.
A second captive-carry test is scheduled for later this year and if it's successful, a free flight test will follow.
The Dream Chaser spacecraft has been in development for more than 10 years and was designed to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station without a crew, according to Sierra Nevada Corp.'s website.
Wednesday's version of the spacecraft is specifically for tests in the atmosphere, but the one that will be sent into space is still in development.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.