That means, until a new space ship is built here in the U.S., astronauts will have a layover in Russia before they fly into orbit.
But NASA is highlighting a Colorado company's efforts to put astronauts in space from U.S. soil so it does not have to book tickets to Russia for long.
Saturday, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver visited CU-Boulder's campus to view the Dream Chaser, a seven-person space vehicle, designed and built by a Colorado company, Sierra Nevada Corporation.
NASA awarded Sierra Nevada $20 million in stimulus funding in 2010 to spur further design and creation of the space craft, which the company originally announced in 2004.
The Dream Chaser is one of several different designs from private companies competing to blast astronauts into space as the Space Shuttle program is retired this year.
"This is just to highlight one of those innovative companies that is expanding," said NASA Deputy Administrator Garver after she toured the space craft on CU's campus.
Sierra Nevada officials say the Dream Chaser project has created jobs and continues to expand in Colorado.
"It's already created hundreds of jobs around the country and in Colorado," said Sierra Nevada Space Systems Chairman Mark Sirangelo. "And we're expecting it will continue to create a lot more."
The company, which houses offices in Louisville and Englewood, also partners with CU-Boulder to have engineering students help design parts of the space craft.
Some of those future jobs could go to students like Drew Gottula, whose graduate work at CU let's him help design the Dream Chaser's cockpit.
"It creates jobs," said Gottula. "Here at the university, it encourages students to go into engineering."
It won't be long before Gottula and others from Sierra Nevada see the Dream Chaser take flight.
The project will launch its first test flights next year.
(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)