While it may have been the choice of many space observers, NASA’s decision to eschew the Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser mini-shuttle design from further commercial crew funding stands after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) rejected Sierra Nevada’s protest against the decision.
The protest was made in September 2014 after NASA awarded Commercial Crew Transport Capability (CCtCap) contracts to Sierra Nevada’s competitors, Boeing and SpaceX for the development of their manned capsule designs.
Sierra Nevada Corp was originally dropped over NASA concerns that it would not make the December 2017 first spaceflight deadline despite the fact that its US$2.55 billion bid was cheaper than Boeing’s US$3 billion. Sierra Nevada alleged that this December 2017 target date was not made explicit.
In the event, Boeing received a US$4.2 billion award for the development to full flight status plus six flights of its CST100 manned capsule. SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) bid only US$1.75 billion but received US$2.6 billion for full development plus six flights of its Dragon V2.
Comment by David Todd: NASA still made the wrong choice of pair. They should have gone for a low risk capsule (either Boeing or SpaceX) and the better, if longer to bring to fruition, Dream Chaser design.