In the increasingly acrimonious relationship between the US and Russia--which is looking more and more like a nasty divorce case with each passing day--the fate of the US involvement with the International Space Station has been cast into doubt, with the US balking at paying the Russians $71 million each time we send an astronaut up on a Russian Soyuz.
So naturally the answer is to spend $6.8 billion for some home-grown technology to get the job done without having to suck up to the Russkies. NASA has awarded contracts to Boeing and Space-X to develop the first space vehicles designed to ferry US astronauts that will not be built by the federal government. The expectation is that this will spur a new era of privately-funded commercial space flight.
And, not coincidentally, tell Putin where to get off.