Sierra Nevada Protests $6.8 Billion Boeing-SpaceX Award, Report
Sierra Nevada Protests $6.8 Billion Boeing-SpaceX Award, Report

Sierra Nevada Protests $6.8 Billion Boeing-SpaceX Award, Report

After being left out of NASA contracts to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, Sierra Nevada Corp. said Friday it has filed a protest asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office to review the space agency’s $6.8 billion award to Boeing and SpaceX.

NASA announced in a Sept. 16 press conference at Kennedy Space Center its decision to award contracts worth up to $4.2 billion to Boeing and $2.6 billion to SpaceX.

The contracts would seek to certify Boeing’s CST-100 capsule and SpaceX’s Dragon capsule as safe to begin ferrying four-person NASA crews to the station by 2017.

Colorado-based Sierra Nevada said in a statement that its Dream Chaser mini-shuttle was rated as technically capable as those companies’ capsules and offered the second-best price, coming in $900 million less than Boeing’s.

“The company believes that, in this time of critical budget limits, it is more important than ever to deliver the best value to the American public,” the statement said.

Sierra Nevada cited “serious questions and inconsistencies in the source selection process.”

The company was considered an underdog to win a contract since it had received less money in earlier rounds of the Commercial Crew Program competition than Boeing and SpaceX, and its spacecraft design was not quite as far along.

However, cost was supposed count for about half of NASA’s evaluation. NASA apparently was concerned that technical challenges could slow the Dream Chaser’s availability compared to the two capsules.

NASA has not released its official explanation of why it made the selections it did, and the bid protest may delay release of a source selection statement.

Sierra Nevada had planned to base its flight operations at KSC, launching from Cape Canaveral and landing on the former shuttle runway.

The company plans to pursue a contract to use the Dream Chaser to fly cargo to the space station.


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