SpaceX names safety panel

March 29, 2012 at 6:06 PM
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HAWTHORNE, Calif., March 29 (UPI) -- Commercial space company SpaceX says an independent panel of former NASA astronauts and officials will oversee its efforts to develop safe human spaceflight.

"These experts will provide us with important insights as we prepare to carry astronauts on the next generation of American spacecraft," SpaceX head Elon Musk said in a statement.

Former astronauts Leroy Chiao, Mark Kelly and Edward Lu are on the five member panel, Florida Today reported Thursday.

The other two panel members are Scott Hubbard, NASA's former "Mars Czar," currently at Stanford University, and Richard Jennings, former chief of medicine at Johnson Space Center, now with the University of Texas.

The panel would have its first meeting this fall to "provide objective assessments of the safety of the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to help SpaceX maintain the highest level of safety," the company's release said.

SpaceX is working toward delivering cargo to the International Space Station this year and says it hopes to fly NASA crews there by 2017.

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