CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Boeing and SpaceX are expected to win out on Tuesday when NASA announces its selection of the commercial spaceships that will fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Sources familiar with the months-long selection process told NBC News that Boeing's CST-100 capsule and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft are expected to start sending crews to the station in 2017.
Since the retirement of the space shuttles in 2011, NASA has had to send U.S. astronauts to the station on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost currently amounting to more than $70 million per seat. Boeing, SpaceX and a third company, Sierra Nevada Corp., have been receiving a total of more than $1 billion to design commercial "space taxis" for NASA's use. The push to build the spacecraft is expected to cost NASA billions of dollars more. Sources say Boeing will be receiving the larger share of that money. Meanwhile, NASA is working with Lockheed Martin and other contractors to build its own spaceship, the Orion capsule. Unlike the space taxis, Orion will be able to fly astronauts into deep space, and eventually to Mars.
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