NASA has a long history of making goofs (or “poor decision” making if we want to be more formal) over the years. After all it’s a government organization so anything forward-thinking, innovative or bold will get quickly squashed under the fat boot of bureaucracy and risk-aversion – despite any claims to the contrary.
So it should really come as little surprise that NASA’s competition to find a commercial supplier of space crew ferrying to Low Earth Orbit has resulted in the choice of two companies: SpaceX and Boeing.
The choice of SpaceX is admirable and not entirely unexpected; the company already privides NASA with non-crew launch services using its in-house systems and has been dedicated to developing access to space since its inception in 2002.
Boeing is somewhat less obvious. Although they have been involved in space missions before, their primary role was as a weapons and defense contractor. They have shown no passion for space outside of what money they could pick up from government contracts and apparently were seen as out of the running as recently as a couple of weeks ago.
Inexplicably, Boeing has also been awarded almost twice as much in funding as SpaceX! When asked repeatedly why this was the case the NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager, Kathy Lueders, refused to give a clear answer and resorted to the evasive response that the awards were “based on the price submitted by the companies in their proposals.”
You have to wonder just how long it will be until senior managers at NASA take up their new highly-paid positions at Boeing…