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SpaceX capsule one step closer to manned flight, says NASA

SpaceX's Dragon space capsule has passed a main design review, brining the private spacecraft closer to carrying astronauts into orbit.

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SpaceX's Dragon space capsule is detached from its docking port on the International Space Station on May 31, 2012 ahead of the spacecraft's return to Earth to end its first voyage to the orbiting lab.

NASA TV

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The crewed version of SpaceX's Dragon space capsule has passed a key design review, moving one step closer to carrying astronauts into orbit, NASA officials announced Thursday (July 12).

In the review, which was conducted June 14 at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., company officials gave NASA details about every phase of a potential crewed Dragon mission to the International Space Station.

SpaceX outlined how it plans to modify its launch pads to support such a mission, and it discussed the Dragon capsule's docking capabilities, living arrangements, weight and power requirements and potential ground landing sites and techniques, NASA officials said. The Dragon capsule is designed to carry seven astronauts to and from space.

SpaceX also presented studies that showed how its launch abort system, which is known as SuperDraco, would perform if an emergency occurred shortly after liftoff. And the company told NASA how it would attempt to safeguard astronauts if something unexpected occurred on the way to orbit, in space or during the trip home. [Gallery: Dragon, SpaceX's Private Spacecraft]

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