With the expectation that the Russians will eventually stop giving rides to the Americans on their Soyuz rockets, NASA turned to the private sector to create the next generation spacecraft to ferry astronauts into space. Boeing and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) were chosen, splitting $6.8 billion in U.S. federal spending.
SpaceX’s Dragon V2 capsule, which seats seven, was designed with an eye to interplanetary travel, able to land vertically anywhere on Earth “with the precision of a helicopter,” according to the company’s website, instead of parachuting into the ocean like early U.S. spacecraft in the 1960s and ’70s.
Boeing’s seven-passenger CST-100 has roots in the Apollo lunar-missions era, and its return to Earth would be cushioned by air bags and parachutes, according to the company’s website. Chicago-based Boeing was the only competitor to complete all of NASA’s design milestones on time.
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