(Credit: Sierra Nevada)
After an intense competition, NASA announced contracts Friday totaling up to $900 million to be divvied up between three companies -- SpaceX, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada -- to continue development of commercial manned spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
While it is far from clear whether Congress will provide enough funding to keep all three companies in the mix, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, a former shuttle commander, said the program was critical to America's future in space.
"Today we are announcing another critical step towards launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on space systems built by American companies," Bolden said. "We have selected three companies to develop crew transportation capabilities as a fully integrated system and keep us on track to end the outsourcing of our human spaceflight program."
The Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Initiative -- CCiCap -- is the third round of postshuttle contracts aimed at spurring private industry to develop a low-cost manned spacecraft to carry crews to and from the space station and end the agency's reliance on Russian Soyuz ferry flights that cost U.S. taxpayers more than $60 mil... [Read more]