- Associated Press - Monday, April 18, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - NASA has awarded nearly $270 million to four companies competing to develop a commercial spacecraft that could replace the aging space shuttle fleet.

The lion’s share of the award announced Monday went to Boeing Co., which received $92.3 million. SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corp., and Blue Origin also won contracts from NASA. The companies have been working on building a craft to transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

There are two shuttle flights left as NASA winds down the shuttle program. Astronauts will keep hitching rides to the space station on Russian capsules until private firms are able to develop space taxis to and from low-Earth orbit.

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