Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, aka SpaceX, have won the US space agency’s approval to undertake the project to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in the next few years.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named the winners of the competition at Kennedy Space Centre, next door to where the launches should occur in a few years.
NASA will pay the former USD 4.2 billion and the latter USD 2.6 billion to certify, test, and fly their crew capsules.
The agency has set a goal of 2017 for the first launch from Cape Canaveral, but stressed it will not sacrifice safety to meet that date.
The commercial venture to fly astronauts to the ISS, called the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) program, is aimed at ridding the United States of the need to rely on Russia to fly crew to the space station.
Aside from SpaceX, Boeing’s competition in the project comprised privately-held Sierra Nevada Corp, and Blue Origin, a privately-funded company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.
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