Sierra Nevada Corporation v. The United States

NASA worked with Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX during the Certification Products Contract phase. Image Credit: NASA/Matthew Young

NASA worked with Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX during the Certification Products Contract phase. Image Credit: NASA/Matthew Young

UPDATE: October 21, 2014 – In a brief statement issued today, the U.S. Federal Court declined Sierra Nevada Corp.’s request to reinstate NASA’s stop work order. Boeing and SpaceX may now continue to work on their commercial spacecraft with NASA funding despite SNC’s protest filed with the Government Accountability Office. The GAO has until January 5, 2015 to reach a decision.

October 20, 2014 – Louisville, Colorado’s Sierra Nevada Corporation will be back in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims tomorrow. SNC filed suit last Wednesday asking the court for a temporary restraining order on NASA’s October 9 decision to proceed with work under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts it awarded to Boeing and SpaceX.

NASA decided to exercise its statutory authority to commence work despite the bid protest filed at the U.S. Government Accountability Office by SNC on September 26. NASA cited the need to provide CCtCap transportation service as soon as possible for the safety of the International Space Station (ISS) crew, continued operation of the ISS, and a need to meet critical crew size requirements in order to perform the commitments the agency has made in international agreements.

That prompted SNC’s latest court action against the U.S. Government on the basis that NASA had not shown any legitimate reason why it could not wait until GAO issued a ruling on SNC’s protest. GAO has until January 5, 2015 to make a decision.

On September 16, NASA announced its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft respectively, with the goal of ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) also competed for a crew contact using its Dream Chaser spacecraft. All three of the companies were found to be compliant and awardable under the criteria set forth in the request for proposal (RFP), but only Boeing and SpaceX were selected.

SNC filed a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office on September 26, stating that the U.S. government would spend up to $900 million more at the publicly announced contracted level if NASA used Boeing’s spacecraft instead of SNC’s Dream Chaser.

Pursuant to the GAO protest, NASA instructed Boeing and SpaceX to suspend performance of the contracts, but commenced work on October 9.