- Associated Press - Thursday, November 25, 2010

Several companies are in the latest race to space, vying for a chance to fly cargo and even astronauts to the International Space Station once NASA’s shuttle program ends.

A brief look at each:

_Blue Origin in Kent, Wash. Run by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Developing space capsule to transport astronauts to space station and paying passengers to orbit.

_Boeing, headquartered in Chicago. Teamed up with Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas, run by hotel magnate Robert Bigelow and designing private space stations. Pair of experimental platforms, named Genesis, launched on Russian rockets in 2006 and 2007. First full-scale module capable of housing people, named Sundancer, due to launch in 2014.

_Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Va. Building Taurus rocket and Cygnus spacecraft. First test flight scheduled for 2011 from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Holds $1.9 billion contract with NASA for cargo runs to space station.

_Paragon Space Development Corp. in Tucson, Ariz. Developing air-revitalization systems for future commercial spacecraft.

_Sierra Nevada Corp., headquartered in Sparks, Nev. Space Systems office in Littleton, Colo. Building Dream Chaser, a mini shuttle that would be capable of carrying crew of seven. To be launched aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket. First flight with crew planned by 2014.

_Space Exploration Technologies Corp. in Hawthorne, Calif. Run by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk. Building Falcon rocket and Dragon spacecraft. Second demonstration flight scheduled for December from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Holds $1.6 billion contract with NASA for cargo runs to space station.

_United Launch Alliance in Denver. Joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., builders of Delta and Atlas rockets.