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SpaceX Taps Space Experts to Review Private Spaceship Safety

The private spaceflght company Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is aiming to launch the first crewed commercial spaceship to the International Space Station and has assembled a team of experts and former astronauts to help make it happen.

To that end, the Hawthorne, Calif., based SpaceX has established an independent safety advisory panel has been established to provide an objective review of the company's Dragon space capsule and its carrier, the Falcon 9 rocket, the company announced Thursday (March 29).

SpaceX is already designing an unmanned capsule, called Dragon, to bring supplies to and from the space station. A crucial test flight of the Dragon capsule is scheduled to occur on April 30, but the company is also working toward its other goal of one day using a version of Dragon to taxi astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

"When it comes to manned spaceflight, safety is our top priority," Elon Musk, SpaceX's CEO and chief designer, said in a statement. "These experts will provide us with important insights as we prepare to carry astronauts on the next generation of American spacecraft."

The panel includes leading human spaceflight safety experts, several former NASA astronauts and senior NASA officials. The panel will convene this fall and will continue its role even after SpaceX begins launching humans to space, company officials said. [Gallery: Dragon, SpaceX's Private Spaceship]

The members of SpaceX's safety advisory panel include: