WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Boeing has revealed its CST-100 capsule, the spacecraft it hopes will taxi NASA astronauts back and forth from the International Space Station come mid-2017.
In 2012, NASA awarded $1.1 billion in seed funding to Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada Corporation to begin developing capsules that could carry American astronauts to the ISS. Since NASA ended the shuttle program, U.S. astronauts have had to rely on the Russians to ferry them back and forth.
Sierra Nevada Corporation's prototype, the Dream Chaser, finished its wind tunnel testing last month.
The three companies are racing to win the final lucrative contract with NASA to shuttle astronauts to the ISS, and with all three prototypes now revealed, the high-tech, high stakes competition is heating up.
Boeing said the Kennedy Space Center will serve as a home base for its continued fine-tuning and production of the spacecraft. The company said it hopes its continued efforts will help bring jobs to Cape Canaveral.
"This is just fantastic," said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., touring the Boeing facilities this week. In 1986, Nelson rode aboard a space shuttle. "It's the first time I've seen it, and I have to say it looks a lot more comfortable that what we used to sit in."