SpaceX Takes More Steps Towards Human Spaceflight

In a step towards qualifying the firm's spacecraft for use in transporting astronauts, Hawthorne-based SpaceX has passed two, critical milestones for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, NASA said Tuesday afternoon. According to an announcement from NASA, Space Exploration Technologies has completes two milestones aimed at making commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers. The two milestones include outlining the steps for certifying its systems for crewed missions, and a test plan to support aborting a mission on the pad.

NASA said the two milestones are the fifth and sixth milestones out of all fourteen to meet all the requirements for transporting humans to space. NASA also said that SpaceX is on track to complete all of those requirements by mid-2014. The next requirement--which NASA said is targeted later this year or early next year--is a pad abort test, where SpaceX will perform a recovery after a simulated Falcon 9 anomaly. In that test, the Falcon 9 will abort at around 5,000 feet, forcing a separation between the Falcon 9 and the Dragon capsule, which will then deploy its parachutes and splashdown in the Atlantic ocean. SpaceX has been focused on transporting astronauts to space since it successful use in delivering cargo to the International Space Station.