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Image caption Artwork: Powerful thrusters should push the Dragon capsule clear of the rocket. America aims to take another step on Saturday towards being able to send its own astronauts into orbit again. California's SpaceX company will practise what to do in the event that one of its rockets carrying a human crew fails shortly after lift-off. If the test is completed successfully, it should clear the way for regular astronaut launches later this year. The US has not launched from its own soil since the retirement of the space shuttles nine years ago. It has been riding the Russian Soyuz system instead. The US space agency (Nasa) has contracted both SpaceX and the aerospace giant Boeing to come up with home-grown alternatives. Full story

18 January