Hawthorne-based SpaceX preparing for International Space Station mission

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (KABC) -- Hawthorne-based SpaceX is getting ready to carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

It's the first time the United States will launch astronauts into space since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011.

The private company opened its doors to the media to meet the newly chosen astronauts and take a peek inside the SpaceX Dragon craft that will take them to the station.

NASA's Commercial Crew Program relies on private companies to develop the next generation of manned space flight.

SpaceX is one of three companies looking to save NASA money while still making a profit itself.

The Crew Dragon is relatively roomy for a space capsule. It has four seats and four windows so everyone onboard can get a great view of their celestial surroundings.

The spacesuits are also considerably snappier than past NASA gear. Experienced astronauts say the SpaceX suits seem to be lighter and more comfortable to wear.

A launch date has not been set, but SpaceX says it is aiming for next spring.
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