CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - SpaceX is closing in on human spaceflight with this weekend's debut of a new capsule designed for astronauts.
The six-day test flight will be real in every regard, beginning with a Florida liftoff Saturday and a docking the next day with the International Space Station.
But the Dragon capsule won't carry humans, rather a test dummy in the same white SpaceX spacesuit that astronauts will wear.
NASA doesn't expect this crucial shakedown cruise to go perfectly. But the lessons learned should improve safety when two NASA astronauts strap into a Dragon as early as July.
Boeing is also in the race to end NASA's eight-year drought of launching U.S. astronauts on U.S. rockets from U.S. soil.
NASA is providing billions to the companies to build and operate these new systems.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.