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(NEW YORK) — It’s proven its mettle carrying cargo to and from the International Space Station and now the Dragon capsule is gearing up for a crucial safety test.

As early as May 5, SpaceX will make its first attempt for a pad abort test of a Dragon capsule designed to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

Instead of being atop a Falcon 9 rocket, the capsule will sit on a test stand for the development test, according to NASA.

Being able to abort a launch and safely evacuate crew is a crucial milestone SpaceX will need to pass before the capsule begins transporting astronauts as early as 2017. During the interim, NASA has been purchasing seats aboard the Russian Soyuz.

NASA last year awarded multi-billion dollar deals to Boeing and SpaceX for development of spacecraft to shuttle astronauts to and from space.

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