Space Exploration Technologies, the Hawthorne commercial rocket firm run by tech mogul Elon Musk, has received $75 million as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Development effort to replace the retiring space shuttle fleet.

The award, announced Monday is among $269 million given to four companies to develop spacecraft to take its astronauts to orbit in the future. SpaceX, which already has a contract to develop spacecraft to carry cargo to the International Space Station, said that its Falcon9 rocket and Dragon capsule are the "safest path to crew transportation capability," at half the cost of the price of using Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

Sierra Nevada Corporation of Louisville, Colo., will receive $80 million toward development of its small space plane design. Boeing will receive $92.3 million for a capsule design. Blue Origin, a start-up backed by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, will receive $22 million to work on its capsule design.

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