The fix is in…probablyAugust 6, 2011
According to this article on Spaceflight Now, Boeing has decided to use the Atlas 5 for the first test flights of their CST-100 super-Apollo capsule. Of course this is with NASA’s blessing. Did somebody actually think they would call SpaceX or somebody? Of course not.
The first test flights aren’t supposed to be until 2015. With luck, the Dragon will be doing routine flights to the ISS by then, and for cheap, and there will be some pressure on NASA to use them even more – or Dreamchaser, or some other commercial space flight upstart company.
I don’t hate Boeing. I do hate backroom deals by the big boys where they undermine the little guys, so that there is no “level playing field.” Elon Musk and others have spent millions trying to streamline the commercial space launch business and do it at least somewhat outside of the public money trough. (They have taken some NASA COTS money, but so have most of the small spaceflight companies. Chickenfeed compared to what Lockheed-Martin and Boeing have received over the years for paper projects that never went anywhere.)
I’m still afraid that after years and years of development, and millions and millions of dollars spent, the small commercial launch companies will be locked out by a deal between the big companies and big government. I know, I’m cynical. I hope I’m wrong and we’ll have four or five robust private launch alternatives out there, so all kinds of industries can start building stations in space for all kinds of production, cheaply, and we can move serious tonnage into space for travel to other places…