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Rendering of Boeing's CST-100 approaching International Space Station. (Boeing image.)

Boeing is showing that it’s serious about developing a new spaceship, announcing that it will base the operations and manufacturing for its Crew Space Transportation program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the longtime home of the Space Shuttle program.

The company’s CST-100 spacecraft will hold up to seven people. It’s designed initially for taking astronauts to the International Space Station, replacing the role of the decommissioned Space Shuttle orbiters, but Boeing says it will also be able to support private missions including flights to an orbital space complex planned by Bigelow Aerospace.

Boeing’s new facility in South Florida could employ up to 550 people by the time the program is operational in December 2015, but that’s contingent on Boeing being selected for ongoing contracts to work with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

A number of private companies are vying for those contracts, although another Seattle-area company, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, declined to appear at a Congressional hearing on the Commercial Crew Program last week.

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