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Hawthorne’s SpaceX readies for liftoff of world’s first commercial-only spacecraft


The Dragon capsule, developed and built by Hawthorne-based SpaceX.

It is T-minus two days and counting till liftoff of the first-ever privately developed spacecraft to visit the International Space Station -- and all of it was built inside a space hangar near you.

Hawthorne-based SpaceX has been working on its Dragon capsule for several years now, and this weekend, if all goes well, will be its first visit to the ISS as it orbits Earth.

Scientists and space enthusiasts say a lot is riding on the upcoming flight, since it is sure to weigh heavily on prospects of future commercial-only space flights. SpaceX, founded by PayPal mogul Elon Musk in 2002, is a privately held company, and many hope it will fill the vacuum left by NASA’s recently ended space program.

The Dragon was taken for a spin in late 2010, circling the planet and returning safely, making SpaceX “the only commercial company to successfully return a spacecraft from orbit,” according to the company’s website. But this weekend marks the true test.