With the Space Shuttle program now boldly going nowhere, it's up to NASA partners like SpaceX to deliver on the interstellar milestones. Scheduled for a launch on November 30th of this year, the Elon Musk-funded Dragon spacecraft is set to dock for the first time with the International Space Station. The planned cargo delivery is expected to be a watershed moment for the space program, as it will cement the agency's private-public commercial endeavors, heralding the "beginning of a new era in space travel." NASA has already given the company conditional approval to merge its two planned test flights -- COTS Demo 2 and COTS Demo 3 -- into this singular mission, with formal authorization contingent upon the "resolution of any potential risks." If all goes according to plan later this year, get set to embrace a brave new world of galactic travel -- one where Musk ushers us into the stars.

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SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to dock with the ISS later this fall