Commercial Space Race Gets Crowded Behind SpaceX

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— Boeing Co. of Chicago has nearly $113 million in NASA commercial crew funding and just finished its second parachute drop test in the Nevada desert. It has completed 46 of 52 milestones needed before flights, spokeswoman Susan Wells said. A landing airbag test is targeted for the fall. The Boeing space capsule, called a CST-100, will carry astronauts and cargo with three test launches aimed for 2015 and 2016, the last one with a crew on board.

— The Sierra Nevada Corp. of Sparks, Nev., with nearly $106 million from NASA, is building a mini-shuttle crew vehicle called Dream Chaser with a first flight targeted for 2016 or possibly 2017. The company this year finished landing gear tests and has a full-scale ship for flight testing attached to a helicopter this fall in California.

— The most secretive of the companies, Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., is run by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and has received $22 million from NASA. Its crew and cargo vehicle, called New Shepard, would also take tourists to suborbit. Its shell passed wind tunnel tests and its engines are now being test fired at NASA's Stennis Space Center.

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Online:

NASA commercial program: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/c3po/home/index.html

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Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

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