NASA is seeking an alternative method of developing space cargo ships that can transport crew and cargo to the international space station. In order to create a level of efficiency in the program and money better spent they are seeking potential contracts in developing commercialized flight. They hope to break Russian monopolies on space flight.
Since 2011, NASA has ended its space flight program but commercial companies such as SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corporation have been developing their own commercial flights. NASA hopes to foster this growth through funding these private projects through partnerships. They goal is to provide a level of oversight and knowledge while private proposals will include design, testing, operations, and return flights.
They are working on the Commercial Crew Transport Capability program to build a commercial fleet by 2017. Phase 1 is limited to the three companies but Phase 2 will offer opportunities to any company that thinks they can design and build the transportation spacecraft. It is believed that costs will be reduced.
To add to the mix Russian ships are currently used to transport American crew but they are threatening to charge higher rates in upcoming years. Likewise, budget problems in the U.S. are forcing government to rethink their strategies in hopes of finding cheaper and more commercially viable options.