NASA announces commercial crew grants to Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada

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NASA has announced the three winners of the third and likely final commercial crew awards, meant to stimulate development of a crew taxi to low Earth orbit (LEO).

Two full awards were given to Boeing worth $460 million and SpaceX worth $440 million, while Sierra Nevada got a partial award valued at $212.5 million.

Boeing will continue development on the CST-100 capsule, while SpaceX will human-rate the Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 launch vehicle, and Sierra Nevada will work on the Dream Chaser winged lifting body. Both Boeing and Sierra Nevada offerings will use the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V to reach orbit.

All three companies won full awards in the second round of grants, now complete. A fourth company that won a second-round award, Blue Origin, did not receive a third-round grant.

The CCiCap award "gets us all the way through the two-crewed flight test, which would be our last certification milestone before we entered into the service phase," said John Mulholland, the Boeing programme manager, during an April interview.

"I think we were pretty aggressive on demonstrations," said SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell of the CCiCap bid during a separate April interview. "We packed ours full of a lot of hardware, lot of demonstrations, lots of testsI bet we've got more tests in our baseline offer than anybody else."

None of the companies responded to immediate questions.

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