By JAMES DEAN
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Three companies will share a combined $1.1 billion to complete designs of commercial spacecraft that could launch astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017.
Boeing and SpaceX were given awards worth $460 million and $440 million, respectively, for a period running through May 2014. Sierra Nevada received $212.5 million.
All three companies are developing systems that would launch from here.
Boeing's CST-100 capsule and Sierra Nevada's winged Dream Chaser would launch atop United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket.
SpaceX's Dragon, an unmanned version of which has already flown to the station, would launch on the company's Falcon 9 rocket.
The announcement means at least one other company that made a strong push for an award, ATK, lost its bid.
Once the base period is complete, NASA could extend the contracts to culminate in a orbital demonstration flight with a human crew.