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Boeing's CST-100

Seattle may have lost a bid to house one of the retired Space Shuttles. But, who needs a clunky, old spacecraft, when you can actually play a part in building the next-generation space vehicle? Two companies with ties to Seattle, Boeing and Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin, have won tens of millions of dollars from NASA to help develop new commercial spaceships.

In total, $269 million was awarded to four companies. Boeing got the largest share ($92 million) while Blue Origin got the smallest ($22 million). Others that received funds included Sierra Nevada Corp. and SpaceX, which is bankrolled by PayPal co-founder and Tesla Motors Chairman Elon Musk.

The funds are part of the second round of the Space Act Agreements, part of a plan to create commercial vehicles to transport astronauts to space.

“We’re committed to safely transporting U.S. astronauts on American-made spacecraft and ending the outsourcing of this work to foreign governments,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a press release. “These agreements are significant milestones in NASA’s plans to take advantage of American ingenuity to get to low-Earth orbit, so we can concentrate our resources on deep space exploration.”

Blue Origin has kept a pretty low profile over the years, operating from its newly-renovated 280,000 square foot headquarters and work space in Kent. The company also operates a launch site in West Texas.

Boeing, meanwhile, is looking to build a space vehicle known as the CST-100. The company is hoping to have the capsule ready by 2015 in order to serve the international space station once the final space shuttles are retired, according to More on the craft here, which is described as being bigger than the Apollo but smaller than the Orion.

Blue Origin also received funds for a crew spacecraft, and what describes as a “pusher launch abort system.”

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