Re: Reliable or not?
"[...] yet these rising upstarts claim to have things ready, willing and able in very short order without the benefit of all that experience. All sounds pretty risky to me, with shades of running before they can walk!"
Of course it's risky: space travel isn't safe in the usual sense of the word. But the "upstarts" aren't all that upstarty really, and they're being scrutinised by some pretty serious scrutineers.
The article refers to this report:
Take a look - it's a summary of what's clearly some very detailed engineering evaluation and serious professional engineering nit-picking based on NASA's long experience.
Various players are fingered as being not quite up to scratch: SpaceX, Boeing (Orion), and the ESA (Orion's service module). SpaceX has been sending stuff into orbit for quite a while now. Both the ESA and Boeing are long-established players in space.
And don't forget, everything has to start somewhere. Early space exploration was done without anyone have much track record - aside from von Braun's lot. NASA didn't lose any astronauts in flight until the first Space Shuttle disaster, which happened despite a great deal of space flight experience accumulated to that date. It's more about the competence of your engineering quality management than anything else.