NASA will make a “major announcement” today on the return of human spaceflight launches for the U.S, specifically which commercial space company — or companies — will taxi astronauts to and from the International Space. You can watch the press conference live here today (Sept. 16) at 4 pm EDT (1 pm PDT, 20:00 UTC).
The competition for the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) has been between four companies: SpaceX, Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin. Some media reports indicate NASA will make commercial crew awards to the obvious front-runners, Boeing and SpaceX.
SpaceX’s Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to the space station in 2012, and SpaceX has been working on a version of the Dragon that can carry humans as well.
Boeing’s CST-100 can carry up to seven passengers or a mix of humans and cargo.
Sierra Nevada has been working on the Dream Chaser, a winged spacecraft that looks similar to a mini space shuttle. Blue Origin has been developing a capsule called Space Vehicle.
The CCP program was developed after the space shuttle program ended in 2011. While NASA focuses its human spaceflight efforts on the new Space Launch System and going beyond Earth orbit, they will use commercial companies that will launch from the US to ferry their astronauts to the space station.