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NASA picks U.S. rocket launch partners

NASA picks U.S. rocket launch partners
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Space travel is changing. After a years-long competition, U.S. space agency NASA has selected two private companies to provide rocket launches for humans. With this green light, can private space travel be far behind?

Remember back when the country was captivated by the Apollo missions and NASA's journey to the moon? It was a time of patriotism and amazing technological development in this country. Now, it looks like those times could be back again because NASA has contracted two U.S. companies to launch our astronauts into space using American rockets for the first time since the shuttle program ended in 2011.

The announcement couldn't come at a better time. On this day in 1976, NASA showed off its first ever space shuttle, the Enterprise. Now, almost 40 years later, the U.S. is taking the next big step in space travel and exploration.

From the beginning of the space program until the end of the Space Shuttle program three years ago, manned U.S. rockets were all government designed, owned and operated. Since the Shuttle's retirement, NASA has relied on Russia to send its astronauts up to the International Space Station - at a heavy cost. Russia charged $71 million per astronaut, and NASA ended up paying over $400 million total.

But, those days are over. That's because NASA has chosen two private American companies to develop a space taxi service to bring our astronauts to space.

Next page: The companies involved
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