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Today, NASA held a press conference announcing they will work with Boeing and Elon Musk's Space X on their upgraded Commercial Crew Program. This program was formed "to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit."

AP PHOTO/JAE C. HONG

It will also end the United States' reliance on Russia for travel to the space station (Russia has not been all too kind about using their transport, they once suggested we use a trampoline to get to the station.) "The Greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on any other nation to get into space," said NASA officials.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden announced the deal with Boeing and SpaceX, which "promises to give more people the opportunity to experience the exhilaration of spaceflight." This comes at quite the cost: NASA will spent a total $6.8 billion for the spacecraft. $4.2 billion will go to Boeing and $2.6 billion to SpaceX. Bolden noted he did not have a part in picking the finalists, instead, NASA veterans were the official selectors of the plans.

The spacecrafts will allow astronauts to stay in orbit longer. The officials also stressed NASA's push to go to Mars. Bolden said,

They will test the systems needed to get to Mars – with missions to an asteroid and areas beyond the moon such as Lagrange points, where space observatories will be operating within our reach in the 2020s as we conduct the first deep space mission with astronauts since the Apollo moon landings.

We’ll conduct missions that will each set their own impressive roster of firsts. First crew to visit and take samples of an asteroid, first crew to fly beyond the orbit of the moon, perhaps the first crew to grow its own food in space — all of which will set us up for humanity’s next giant leap: the first crew to touch down and take steps on the surface of Mars."

Here are renderings of both SpaceX and Boeing in orbit:

 

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