writes to tell us that the US space agency is holding a competition to develop space vehicles
NASA doesn't have the time or resources to develop. The winning companies will get $500 million and NASA will merely lease them as the need arises. From the article: "NASA hopes the private-sector vehicles can bridge an expected gap between when the space shuttle fleet is grounded in 2010 and the crew exploration vehicle is flying in 2014. A thriving commercial space transportation industry also can offer researchers, and others, opportunities to send payloads into space without relying on NASA's crowded space shuttle schedule or worrying 'that the government will decide next month or next year not to launch,' Griffin said."