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Private Rocket Firm Under Pressure to Fill Space Shuttle Void
by Denise Chow
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Private rocket builder SpaceX is trying to speed up testing of its new Dragon spaceship to enable it to visit the International Space Station on the next demonstration flight.
With NASA's space shuttle programset to retire later this year, the pressure is on for commercial providers to compensate for the loss of the shuttles' enormous cargo-carrying capability.
"We have a very serious responsibility here because the space shuttle is coming to a close," SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk told reporters here at the 27th National Space Symposium Tuesday (April 12). "What we've been told by NASA is that if we don't reach the space station by the end of this year, there's a risk that they will have to de-man the space station next year. We've got to be sure that we get to the space station. That is very much our primary focus." [Photos: SpaceX's Falcon 9 Rocket]