SpaceX nears big test to return human spaceflight to America

The interior of SpaceX's Dragon crew-capsule. The seating configuration of the seven astronauts it can carry at a time is shown. Credit: SpaceX

Since the end of the space shuttle era, no American spacecraft has ferried American astronauts to the International Space Station. While NASA has no problem with letting Russia stepping in and transporting the astronauts, escalating tensions with the Asian giant over its de facto annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea have left politicians bristling with the idea of having to depend on the Russians. A big step toward rectifying it comes on May 6.