NASA retired its fleet of shuttles, so now what?  Now, it is time for private firms to step in and help develop and deploy spaceships that are capable of transporting astronauts.  SpaceX, Boeing Co., and Sierra Nevada Corp. are rumored to have received a large sum (several hundred million dollars) from NASA to begin development of spaceships that will replace the retired shuttles.

NASA retired its fleet of shuttles, so now what?  Now, it is time for private firms to step in and help develop and deploy spaceships that are capable of transporting astronauts.  SpaceX, Boeing Co., and Sierra Nevada Corp. are rumored to have received a large sum (several hundred million dollars) from NASA to begin development of spaceships that will replace the retired shuttles. 

According to NBC News, Boeing has received USD $135 million for work on its proposed CST-100 capsule, Sierra Nevada has been given $125 million for R&D of its Dream Chaser spacecraft, and SpaceX has been allotted $75 million to upgrade its Dragon space capsule to carry astronauts.

NASA won’t make an official announcement until Friday morning, but insiders have confirmed that the above mentioned firms have already negotiated terms and will begin working on a launching system, capsule, launch vehicle (‘space taxi’), and ground and recovery operations.

Since NASA retired its shuttles, the American space exploration agency has relied on the Russian to transport American astronauts into space.  The Russian good will doesn’t come free, however, as it costs $60 million per seat to hitch a ride on their spacecraft.

A launch-ready spaceship could be ready as early as 2015, but a NASA official said that 2015 might be too soon.  The planned ‘space taxis’ are purportedly designed to carry up to seven astronauts.