Heard that SpaceX can combine COTS 2 and 3 demos

I just heard a rumor that SpaceX has recently gotten permission from NASA to combine the second and third COTS demonstration flights, as SpaceX had requested. So this would mean that the next Dragon will go to the ISS and dock with it. Hope we get public confirmation soon. This space.com article from December discussed the issue of combining the two demos,

> Musk was confident that, with NASA’s approval, the Dragon spacecraft could fly directly to the space station on its next test flight, which he imagined could occur as early as mid-2011. In the initial scheduling agreement, Musk said, NASA officials agreed to consider allowing SpaceX to fly Dragon to the space station on only its second flight if the first went according to plan.

“There’s no meaningful difference in the complexity between the maneuvers we conducted today, and what we would conduct in going to the space station,” Musk said. “Of course, we need to carefully examine the data from this mission and make sure it’s all good, but I’m optimistic that the next flight will be to the space station.”

But first, SpaceX would need to incorporate some extra elements into the Dragon capsule before it can fly to the station. This includes the addition of solar panels and improvements in redundancy for some onboard electronics, Musk said.

“There won’t really be any changes to the structure or engines,” he explained. “So, it’s a relatively small delta between this vehicle and the one that would go to the station. That’s why I feel really confident we’ll be able to get there.”

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