NASA's decision to cancel the shuttle program may have spelled the end of an era, but it also sparked a new kind of space race.
Now companies large and small are vying for a spot in history as some of the first commercial enterprises to design, build, and even fly a spaceship. Some of them will contract directly with NASA in a bid to continue shuttling American astronauts into space. Others are appealing directly to (well-financed) civilians for early commercial flights.
Regardless, the future of manned spaceflight, at least in this country, appears now to rest in the hands of private enterprise.
Click through the slides above to see some of the major players and the spacecraft they have in the works.