[Editor's Note: This has been cross-posted from the NASA blog.]
Today, I am with Kennedy Space Center Director, Bob Cabana and the program manager for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, Ed Mango, to announce the selection of three companies for the next phase of our efforts to develop private sector capabilities that will keep us on track to end the outsourcing of America's human spaceflight program.
They are: The Boeing Company, Space Exploration Technologies and Sierra Nevada Corporation.
We have selected these companies to develop crew transportation capabilities as fully integrated systems.
Each of these companies has proven track records in the aerospace industry.
By keeping three companies in the mix, we not only ensure competition, which is good for the taxpayers, we also guarantee that we never find ourselves in the situation we're in today -- dependent on a sole provider to get our crew to space.
For the next 21 months, these partners will perform tests and complete designs.
Through this initiative NASA will help the private sector design and develop the human spaceflight capability that could ultimately lead to the availability of human spaceflight services for both government and commercial customers.
And we'll also help support the creation of high-paying technology jobs in Florida and across the country.
The ultimate goal of our Commercial Crew space program -- a high priority of the Obama Administration -- is to bring human spaceflight launches back here to American soil and end the outsourcing of these important jobs.
Our U.S. industry partners will help us achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station and low Earth orbit.
This strategy allows us to concentrate on building America's next generation space exploration system, the Orion spacecraft, and the Space Launch System -- the vehicle and rocket that will take American astronauts farther into space than any spacecraft developed for human spaceflight has flown in the 40 years since our astronauts returned from the moon.
We made the announcement at Kennedy Space Center for two reasons. First, as Kennedy celebrates 50 years as America's gateway to space, we are proud that it is now the launch pad for the next big leap in the nation's space program -- our Commercial Crew Program, which is headquartered here. And second, just two years ago, at Kennedy Space Center, President Obama set a goal of sending humans farther into space than we have ever been -- to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s.
NASA's exploration strategy is producing tangible results and the teams in Florida and across the nation are making steady progress.
Our commercial crew and cargo efforts are based on a simple but powerful principle: By investing in American companies -- and American ingenuity -- we are spurring free-market competition to give taxpayers more bang for the buck, while enabling NASA to do what it does best -- reach for the heavens.
For more about NASA's commercial partnerships, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/commercial
Charles Bolden is Administrator of NASA