For Boeing, This Is Second Recent Protest Of A Major Contract Award, After Boeing Successfully Protested Tanker Plane Contract

The Boeing Co. [BA], having won an earlier protest this year against a $35 billion tanker plane contract the Air Force awarded to rival Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC], now has protested a $1.09 billion weather satellite contract that NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded to Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT].

That prompted NASA to issue a stop-work order to Lockheed, temporarily freezing the program.

Agencies awarding contracts, in their post-award briefings for winning and losing contractors, attempt to prove that bids for contracts were reviewed thoroughly, fairly and fully. But in this case Boeing — until now the established incumbent firm providing this series of weather satellites –came away asserting that the briefing instead showed NASA and NOAA mishandled this latest weather satellites bid review process to unfairly favor Lockheed.

Boeing was the prime contractor for the current series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites, called GOES N, O and P.

But NASA and NOAA earlier this month rejected a Boeing proposal and instead gave Lockheed the contract for the next satellite in the GOES series, called GOES-R.

Boeing protested that award, in documents filed with the government referee in contract disputes, the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO has 100 days to decide the case, until a deadline of March 25.

In a statement, Boeing said NASA erred in awarding the contract to Lockheed.

The decision to file a protest with the GAO “was taken only after careful consideration,” Boeing stated.

The Chicago company, which rarely protests contract awards, said it believes, “in light of the information that has been provided to this point, that we offered a superior proposal under the disclosed evaluation criteria.”

Under the disputed contract, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. of Denver is to supply two satellites under the basic portion of the contract, with two possible options, each for one additional satellite, or a total of four.

Lockheed would get the full $1.09 billion if all options are exercised.

Northrop also had won an earlier program definition GOES-R pact, and had submitted a proposal for GOES-R. A spokeswoman for Northrop said the company had no comment to make on whether it, too, will protest the award to Lockheed. The matter is under review, she said.

This GOES-R contract is the second recent major win for Lockheed in NASA competitions. The space agency earlier chose Lockheed to build the next-generation U.S. spaceship, Orion, which will go to low Earth orbit and then, by the end of the next decade, to the moon.

Should Boeing not prevail in its GOES-R protest to the GAO, Lockheed is to design, develop and deliver the GOES-R series of spacecraft and provide pre-launch, launch and post- launch support.

The first launch of the GOES-R series would be scheduled for 2015. Lockheed would design and develop the spacecraft in its Newtown, Pa., Sunnyvale, Calif., and Denver facilities.

These satellites provide a platform for Earth-viewing, solar-viewing and space-viewing instruments. The data from the instruments are used for weather forecasting and environmental, space and solar science.

The new satellites will improve existing weather and environmental monitoring capabilities.

Some members of Congress have been concerned about continuity of satellite data in the environmental, space and other areas, because of delays and cost overruns in a separate program, the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). However, it recently has shown progress in developing NPOESS sensors.

NOAA funds, operates and manages the GOES program. NASA, through its Goddard Space Flight Center, Md., manages the acquisition of GOES-R spacecraft and instruments for NOAA.

Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc., filed the protest against NASA, and the GAO named its attorney Edward Goldstein to handle the case numbered NNG08193033R, with the file number 400935.1.