SpaceX Hails Astronaut Milestone

Hawthorne-based Space Exploration Technologies, the commercial rocket firm headed by technology mogul Elon Musk, said today that it has completed a major milestone in its efforts to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. The company said it completed a preliminary design review of its launch abort system, for use with its Dragon spacecraft. The firm said its approval by NASA of the latest design brings it closer to providing human spaceflight to the ISS. SpaceX--which is in the midst of projects to deliver cargo to the ISS--is hoping that NASA will open up the possibility of flying human beings into space with its spacecraft. SpaceX has been lobbying towards acceptance of using the firm's own craft for delivering humans to space, saying that it currently costs American taxpayers as much as $62 million per seat on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft; SpaceX said it can deliver astronauts to space for $20M per seat, with a capacity of seven astronauts at a time.