NASA is putting tens of millions of dollars into four exotic new spaceships that will likely be taking astronauts into space. Two of them have ties to Washington state.
One concept getting money is Boeing's Orion spacecraft, a commercial version of the ship NASA had been planning to send on moon missions and is now developing to be a lifeboat at the space station. Boeing is getting $90 million.
The second of the four new ships being developed is the successor to one that crashed during testing two decades ago. It's called the New Shepard, developed by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. It's getting $22 million in federal funds.
Nevada-based Sierra Nevada Corp wants to build a mini-shuttle that could launch from Cape Canaveral. It's called the Dreamchaser and would be similar to the X-37 mini-shuttle which was recently launched twice from the Cape. One of two X-37s is currently in space on a secret mission.
Sierra Nevada is getting $80 million to help make the ship a reality.
Finally, NASA is putting $75 million into the only spacecraft that has actually flown in space, the Dragon, which is built by SpaceX of California.
Its designer, Internet mogul and rocket scientist Elon Musk, said the Dragon can carry people to the space station within two years of signing a contract with NASA.