NASA drops Boeing from space station cargo competition

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2015 4:43 PM

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - U.S. space agency NASA has dropped Boeing Co <BA.N> from a multibillion-dollar competition to fly cargo to the International Space Station and will delay selecting one or more winners for about two months, officials said on Thursday.

Boeing was offering an unmanned version of its Starliner CST-100 space taxi, under development as part of a separate NASA program to transport crew and cargo to the space station.

“We received a letter from NASA and are out of CRS-2,” Boeing spokeswoman Kelly Kaplan wrote in an email, referring to NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract.

“I don’t think we'll know the ‘why’ until our debrief with NASA,” she added.

NASA declined to comment on reasons for dropping Boeing, citing a communications blackout while it evalutes bids. Spokeswoman Kathryn Hambleton said the contract award date had been pushed back to January 30, 2016, to give the agency time to evaluate all the proposals. "This is a very complex procurement," she said.

Orbital ATK and privately owned SpaceX currently hold station cargo delivery contracts worth more than $3.5 billion. Orbital confirmed it was still in the running for a follow-on contract. SpaceX declined to comment.

A third company, privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp., said it was informed by NASA on Thursday that it remains in the running for the competition.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Christian Plumb)