As SpaceX gears up for the first launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket, the company is backing away from one potential use of the vehicle, launching crewed missions beyond Earth orbit.
On the eve of the first launch of a reused Dragon capsule on a Falcon 9 with a reused first stage, both NASA and SpaceX said they were comfortable with the level of risk involved with the mission.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft Aug. 14 with a diverse payload of science experiments for the International Space Station.
Both NASA and the two companies developing commercial crew vehicles say those efforts remain on schedule for test flights that are in some cases less than a year away.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launched a Dragon spacecraft June 3 making its second trip to the International Space Station.
The Falcon 9 will send a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station, with the first stage landing at Cape Canaveral's Landing Zone 1.
SpaceX said the test was a success, setting the stage for a launch late Thursday of a Dragon cargo spacecraft to the International Space Station.
One of the NASA astronauts training for commercial crew test flights said he expects the agency to make crew assignments for them as soon as this summer.
The launch will be the first to use a previously flown first stage, in this case a stage that launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft last April.
The Dragon, flying the CRS-10 cargo mission, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Long Beach, California.
SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk announced Feb. 27 that the company is pursuing plans to launch two people on a Dragon spacecraft around the moon in late 2018.