Nepotism is alive and well at NASA

In 2010, NASA started a competition to have private companies provide crew transportation to the International Space Station.   This is supposed to be a competition where the best performer will receive the most business.   Based on the history of the contracts and NASA's actions, it's pretty clear that this is not the case.
There was a news conference this past week talking about the progress and planning for NASA's commercial crew initiative.  
In this meeting and previous actions, NASA has shown their preference for Boeing over upstart SpaceX, despite SpaceX out-performing Boeing. 
In August of 2014, NASA awarded approximately $4.6 Billion to Boeing to develop their commercial crew spacecraft to flight readiness while only giving $2.6 Billion to SpaceX.    This is despite the fact that SpaceX has a functional spacecraft and several Commercial Cargo missions to the ISS under its belt.
In January 2015, a NASA press briefing revealed the following schedules:

  • SpaceX Dragon V2 pad abort test - March 2015
  • SpaceX Dragon V2 in-flight abort test - May 2015
  • SpaceX Dragon V2 unmanned orbital test - Late 2016
  • SpaceX Dragon V2 manned orbital test - March 2017
  • Boeing CST-100 pad abort - Mid to Late 2016
  • Boeing CST-100 inflight abort - 2016
  • Boeing CST-100 unmanned orbital test - March 2017
  • Boeing CST-100 manned orbital test - Late 2017 

Despite being behind SpaceX, Boeing has been given the first Commercial Crew Mission (USCV-1) in early 2018.   It was even questioned if SpaceX would receive any Commercial Crew missions.   
Word has it that Congress has been told "Commercial Crew means Boeing".   
The benefits of SpaceX over Boeing:

  • Earlier availability - May 2017 vs. Late 2017
  • Spacecraft - SpaceX has a functioning spacecraft now, Boeing does not 
  • Safety - SpaceX offers abort capability all the way to orbit
  • Capacity - SpaceX can carry up to 7 astronauts or mixture of astronauts/cargo.  Boeing is limited to 4 astronauts
  • Experience - SpaceX has already delivered 5 Commercial Cargo flights to the ISS.   

So why is Boeing getting preferential treatment?