Over the next 4 years NASA plans on spending $500 million on developing the capability in the private sector to be able to deliver payloads and possibly people into space. The hope is that by 2010 (or sooner) private companies will be able to support the International Space Station by bringing supplies up. With the Shuttle on blocks the United States has no way of reaching the station. That reveals a serious hole in the capability of the country to maintain a presence in space. It also means that the US has to rely on Russia to be able to reach the astronauts on the space station.
A number of companies have expressed interest in the opportunity. But the Falcon 1 rocket developed by Elon Musk’s company SpaceX is ahead of the game.
NASA plans on spending $40 million in 2006 for demonstrations, $130 million in 2007, $200 million in 2008 and $130 million in 2009.