[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has won a $440 million contract with NASA to develop the successor to the space shuttle and transport American astronauts into space.

SpaceX expects to undertake its first manned flight by 2015. While Space X’s Dragon aircraft is initially being used to transport cargo to the International Space Station, both Dragon and Falcon 9 were designed from the beginning to carry crew.

Under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative’s base period, SpaceX will make the final modifications necessary to prepare Dragon to safely transport astronauts into space.

[Image: Computer-generated illustration of a Dragon crew space craft in Earth orbit. | Image Courtesy: SpaceX]