Wondering why NASA gave Boeing the lion's share of its space taxi funding? Jeff Bezos could have something to do with it. Shortly after NASA awarded Boeing $4.2 billion in funding, the Wall Street Journal claimed the company padded its bid with a partnership with Bezos' Blue Origin. Turns out, the WSJ was right: today Blue Origin and the United Launch Alliance (a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin) entered an agreement to fund and build the Blue Origin BE-4 rocket engine. Basically, Boeing is going to build NASA's space taxi capsules and Bezos' rocket company is going to launch them out of our atmosphere.
It's a sensible alliance -- the ULA has been the government's preferred rocket provider for awhile now, while Blue Origin is striving to build better rockets for a lower price point. Still, it'll be awhile before we see capsules climbing on Blue Origins engines: the plan is to develop and test the BE-4 over the next four years. Full scale testing isn't expected until 2016, and the rocket even fly until 2019. Still, that's right on schedule, and the firms expect the rocket to be an integral part of our nation's next-generation launch setup.