With the scheduled launch of two NASA astronauts into orbit Wednesday, SpaceX aims to propel the U.S. into a historic new era of commercially led space exploration.
No company has flown commercially developed hardware carrying humans and rendezvoused with the international space station. If successful, it would be a resounding achievement for Space Exploration Technologies Corp.; its billionaire founder, Elon Musk; and a milestone for NASA.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has spent years trying to shift away from the lumbering process of building and designing government-owned spacecraft, and toward using public-private partnerships to develop vehicles and then pay private contractors for specific services.
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