NASA to use Boeing, Space X to transport astronauts

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Boeing and SpaceX will be awarded NASA contracts to transport astronauts to and from the international space station, CNN has learned.

The space agency will hold a news conference at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 4 p.m. ET to discuss “the return of human spaceflight launches to the United States,” according to a brief statement on its website.

NASA ended its Space Shuttle program in 2011 amid funding concerns and a shift in priorities to exploring deep space.

Since the shuttle program was retired, NASA crewmembers have been hitching rides on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, at a cost of $70 million per seat, according to a NASA spokeswoman. The agency typically purchases six seats per year.

The contract to be announced Tuesday will be difficult to compare with the current arrangement, since it will involve “additional capabilities,” such as development and certification programs, as well as shuttle services, the spokeswoman said.

Boeing declined to comment. SpaceX, which is backed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.