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SpaceX's Private Spaceship Milestone Caps Big Week for Billionaire Elon Musk 

The private spaceflight firm SpaceX has notched a key milestone in its quest to launch humans to orbit, adding to an already eventful week for company founder and CEO Elon Musk.

SpaceX has completed a preliminary design review of the systems necessary to support astronauts in orbit and return them safely to Earth aboard the company's Dragon spacecraft, NASA officials announced Thursday (Aug. 15).

The news came just two days after SpaceX's reusable rocket prototype, known as Grasshopper, leaped sideways in an unprecedented test flight, and three days after Musk unveiled his idea for the potentially revolutionary "Hyperloop" transportation system. [Hyperloop Images: Elon Musk's Travel Concept Unveiled (Gallery)]

Taking steps toward manned flight

SpaceX is one of three companies — along with Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp. — to receive funding in the latest round of awards from NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA hopes at least one privately developed American spaceship can begin flying astronauts to and from the International Space Station by 2017.

During the recent design review, which took place at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., company engineers explained to NASA and industry experts how Dragon would keep up to seven astronauts safe on orbit and during re-entry and landing. ...more

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