Washington: Aerospace company Sierra Nevada Corp has filed a formal protest with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) over the selection of two American firms by NASA to build and operate space taxis to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).
In the complaint, the third bidder Sierra Nevada said the US space agency's decision "would result in a substantial increased cost to the public despite near equivalent technical and past performance scores".
With a goal to end the US' reliance on Russian hardware for manned trips to the space station, NASA last week chose the US multi-national Boeing Co. and California-based Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) for the multi-billion dollar contract to carry astronauts in space taxis to and from the orbit using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively.
While Boeing Co got a contract worth $4.2 billion, SpaceX grabbed a $2.6 billion contract, NASA said in a statement.
Sierra Nevada said NASA's own selection document and debrief "indicate that there are serious questions and inconsistencies in the selection process".
According to a NASA spokesperson, the agency would not have any comment while the protest is pending with the US GAO.
The GAO must determine if the protest is valid, a process that can take months, Wall Street Journal reported.
Sierra Nevada lagged behind the other two bidders in some technical rankings, the report added.