WASHINGTON — Sparks, Nev.-based Sierra Nevada Corp. was the big winner in NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) competition, receiving $20 million of the $50 million in economic stimulus money meant to seed development of commercial crew transportation services.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced the names of the five selected companies during a Feb. 1 teleconference to discuss the U.S. space agency’s plan to cancel the Moon-bound Constellation program and rely on commercial operators to fly astronauts to an international space station the United States now intends to support through at least 2020.

In a press release issued after U.S. markets had closed, NASA announced that Chicago-based Boeing Co. will receive $18 million; Denver-based United Launch Alliance will receive $6.7 million; Kent, Washington-based Blue Origin will get $3.7 million; and Tucson, Ariz.-based Paragon Space Development Corp. will get $1.4 million.

“These selections represent a critical step to enable future commercial human spaceflight,” Doug Cooke, NASA associate administrator for exploration systems said in a written statement. “These impressive proposals will advance NASA significantly along the path to using commercial services to ferry astronauts to and from low Earth orbit, and we look forward to working with the selected teams.”

Each of the selected companies signed Space Act Agreements with NASA  that will fund performance-based milestones that begin in February, according to the release.

NASA did not release details about the selected projects.

A Sierra Nevada executive,however, told Space News late last year that the Sparks, Nevada-based company’s plan involves a runway-landing, lifting-body vehicle called Dream Chaser that the company has been working on for several years. The six-passenger vehicle is based on NASA’s HL-20 concept from the early 1990s

A Paragon executive said last November that the company proposed a yearlong effort to build and demonstrate an air revitalization system that could be incorporated into any contemplated commercial space capsule, including Space Exploration Technologies’ Dragon capsule or a crewed variant of the Cygnus vehicle proposed by Dulles, Va.-based Orbital Sciences Corp.

The Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston is managing this effort.

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...