SpaceX To Launch Astronauts To ISS

In a huge milestone for the aspirations of Elon Musk's space venture, Hawthorne-based SpaceX has been given authorization to launch astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA said late Friday. NASA said it has given its first mission order for SpaceX to launch astronauts from U.S. soil. NASA now has two, crew mission orders, including one to competing provider Boeing. NASA said it has not yet decided whose mission will launch first. NASA said it expects that the first missions may launch in 2017, provided the contractors meet readiness conditions. The space agency said it expects the move to commercial launches will reduce the cost of transporting NASA astronauts to the ISS, compared to what it pays the Russian Federal Space Agency for launches, and that the move will also restore America's human spaceflight capabilities.