NASA Picks Companies To Launch US Astronauts Back Into Space07:51
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Members of a panel announce NASA's choice of Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station during a news conference at the Kennedy Space Center on Sept. 16, 2014, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)
Members of a panel announce NASA's choice of Boeing and SpaceX to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station during a news conference at the Kennedy Space Center on Sept. 16, 2014, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

NASA said it will give more than $6 billion to private space companies that will launch Americans into orbit.

Since the demise of the shuttle program in 2011, the United States has had to buy seats on Russian vehicles to get crew members to the International Space Station.

NASA announced this week that Boeing and SpaceX would have their own space vehicles ready to launch in 2017.

Pat Duggins, a longtime NASA watcher for NPR, tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson more about the initiative.

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This segment aired on September 17, 2014.

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