(QHA) -

NASA has selected Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, bringing the agency one step close to launching Americans into space from US soil once again.

Since then, Nasa has relied on the Russian space agency to send its astronauts to the ISS at a cost of up to $71m per seat. That relationship has come under pressure in recent months amid growing political tensions between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine.

“Today we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from US soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017,”-  said Charles Bolden, the Nasa administrator who announced the decision at Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre.

“This wasn’t an easy choice but it’s the best choice for Nasa and the nation. The partnerships with Boeing and SpaceX promise to give more people in America and around the world the opportunity to experience the wonder and exhilaration of spaceflight. As long as our providers meet our requirements, we want to use them.”