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NASA launches $1.1 billion deal with private spaceflight companies (+video)

A trio of private spaceflight companies – Boeing, SpaceX, and the Sierra Nevada Corporation – are to get $1.1 billion in funding from NASA under a new deal to launch US astronauts into space.

By Space.com StaffSpace.com / August 3, 2012

SpaceX's Dragon space capsule is detached from its docking port on the International Space Station in May 2012 before the spacecraft's return to Earth to end its first voyage to the orbiting lab.

NASA TV

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NASA revealed new agreements with three private spaceflight companies today (Aug. 3), deals that total $1.1 billion in funding support for new commercial spaceships to launch American astronauts into space.

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SpaceX Dragon capsule, the first commercially owned and operated cargo craft, splashed down safely into the Pacific on Thursday.

The new deals represent the final round of NASA's Commercial Crew integrated Capability program  (CCiCap), which aims to foster the design and development of new private spaceships to fill the current gap in U.S. human spaceflight capabilities.

The selected companies are:

As part of the new agreements, Sierra Nevada will receive $212.5 million, SpaceX will receive $440 million, and Boeing will receive $460 million. Boeing and SpaceX are developing private space capsules, with Sierra Nevada taking a different path with its winged Dream Chaser space plane design.

"Today, we are announcing another critical step toward launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on space systems built by American companies," NASA chief Charles Bolden said in a statement. "We have selected three companies that will help keep us on track to end the outsourcing of human spaceflight and create high-paying jobs in Florida and elsewhere across the country." [Now Boarding: The Top 10 Private Spaceships]

Not included in the list is Blue Origin of Kent., Wash., a company owned by Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos that is building private spacecraft for suborbital and orbital flights. The company did receive NASA support for its orbital crew vehicle in the space agency's previous funding round.

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