NASA has awarded its long-awaited Commercial Crew Development contracts to Boeing and SpaceX to build the next generation of spacecraft that will deliver astronauts to the International Space Station beginning in 2017. The two firms will build, deliver and launch space capsules of their own design to provide human access to low Earth orbit. Currently, U.S. astronauts can reach the space station only by purchasing seats aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft for $70 million each.
The total potential contract value will be $6.8 billion for spacecraft certification over the life of the contracts, according to Charlie Bolden, NASA administrator. Boeing will receive $4.2 billion, and SpaceX will receive $2.6 billion.