With the space shuttle program ended, NASA currently has no way to deliver astronauts into space. So the space agency is turning to private companies to develop the next generation of spacecraft.
NASA will spend $1.1 billion over the next two years to fund research and testing of spacecraft with Commercial Crew Integrated Capability. The goal is to build a “space taxi” that can carry personnel to the International Space Station (ISS) within five years, NBC News reports.
Russia, NASA’s partner in the ISS, is currently charging the space agency $60 million a person to deliver U.S. astronauts to the space station via its rockets.
Boeing (NYSE:BA) will receive $460 million, SpaceX will get $440 million, while Sierra Nevada Corporation will get $212.5 million.
NASA officials say that developing a commercial alternative will prevent the U.S. from having to rely on other countries to deliver personnel to orbit.
The companies involved have already received millions in R&D funding from NASA and have designed their own space capsules, designed to carry crews of seven astronauts into orbit, for less than Russia currently charges.
SpaceX is run by eBay’s (NASDAQ:EBAY) PayPal co-founder and billionaire Elon Musk who hailed the funding as “a decisive milestone in human spaceflight.”