Spacecraft shown in approximate proportion to the space shuttle. Picture credits: Boeing, SpaceX, Sierra Nevada Corp, Nasa and Blue Origin.
The shuttle's successors
After three decades, the shuttle era is all but over and the United States no longer has the means to send astronauts into space. Nasa is looking to the private sector to provide a new generation of space vehicles to take on the work of delivering crew and cargo to the International Space Station and low-Earth orbit. We detail five of the possible successors to the shuttle.
As well as serving as a taxi to the International Space Station Boeing's vehicle could also take paying passengers into space.CST-100
In 2010 SpaceX became the first privately owned company to send a spacecraft into orbit and recover it.Dragon
Sierra Nevada Corp
The only shuttle-like winged vehicle to be in the race, but at only 10m (32ft) long it is much shorter than its predecessor.Dream Chaser
The MPCV is designed for much longer missions than the other craft detailed here - it could venture as far as the Moon or Mars.MPCV
Of the four companies receiving Nasa funding, perhaps the least is known about Blue Origin and its space vehicle.Space vehicle
Features & Analysis
- Focus 'shifts west' for missing jet
- Landing gear collapses on US plane
- The passengers on board MH370
- 'Boring' game that became a smash hit
- N Irish peer among helicopter dead
- 'Casualties' in China knife attack
- Arrest over deadly US festival crash
- Middle East ban for Noah epic
- Eighth victim at New York blast site
- Israel-Gaza strikes despite 'truce'
Elsewhere on the BBC
BBC Autos' Lawrence Ulrich discovers the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class sports sedan
Crypto-anarchist Cody Wilson explains why the real cyber utopia is in the present, not the future