The return of Americans to space from Florida will take a big leap next week from the Space Coast.
NASA and SpaceX officials are expected to release more details Friday about SpaceX's pad abort test. NASA managers are requiring SpaceX to show them how they will get astronauts off the launch pad safely and quickly in case there's a problem with the rocket.
SpaceX is scheduled to attempt the pad abort test on Wednesday.
A test version of the crewed Dragon vehicle will be boosted into the air. The Dragon's parachutes will then be deployed, and the vehicle will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.
There will only be a dummy inside, but it will be the first time the crewed Dragon is put into action.
"It's not going to last very long," said Garrett Reisman, a former astronaut who is now the director of SpaceX's crew operations. "The boost phase is only a couple of seconds. So, it's going to get out of here in a hurry. But that's the whole intent: When you're close to the pad and you're close to danger, you want to get away."
Boeing has also been conducting tests before they put humans on board its CST-100 spacecraft.
Last month, Boeing conducted a splash test emergency water drop.
Boeing and SpaceX were selected to return American astronauts to space by 2017 under a $6.8 billion contract with NASA.
"We are so excited that we'll actually be able to see hardware and do a really critical test that ensures the systems we have will be flying our crews safely," said Kathryn Lueders, program manager for NASA's commercial crew program.
The test window for SpaceX opens up at 7 a.m. Wednesday.