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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9 rocket will attempt to carry a mock-up of its Dragon capsule into orbit Friday.
NASA wants to use the combo to haul cargo to the International Space Station next year. Elon Musk, chief executive officer for SpaceX, said astronauts could follow within three years of his company getting a contract.
It's all part of President Barack Obama's grand exploration plan: relieving NASA of the mundane chore of ferrying goods and people to the space station, so it can focus on developing what's needed to get astronauts to asteroids and Mars in the coming decades.
Obama visited the SpaceX launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in April and saw the 180-foot rocket up close, before a speech at Kennedy Space Center. The 8-year-old company is one of several vying for NASA's business.
"I hope people don't put too much emphasis on our success," Musk said, "because it's simply not correct to have the fate of commercial launch depend on what happens in the next few days. But it certainly does add to the pressure."