Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) said Oct. 20 that it completed a preliminary design review of the launch-abort system for its Dragon space capsule. NASA’s approval of the preliminary design clears the way for SpaceX to start building some of the needed hardware and marks the fourth milestone the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company has completed under the $75 million Commercial Crew Development (CCDev)-2 award it won in April.

Initially, the Dragon’s launch-abort system will be strictly a safety system. In the future, SpaceX wants to adapt the rocket-propelled abort system, which is built into the sidewalls of the Dragon capsule, into a landing mechanism that would allow the spacecraft to touchdown on Earth or another planet.

The CCDev 2 program is designed to foster development of commercially owned and operated spacecraft that NASA and others could hire out for crew transportation. The other companies receiving NASA funding under CCDev 2 are Boeing Space Exploration of Houston, Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., and Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nev.