Over a week ago, NASA placed a $ 2.9 billion contract with Elon Musks SpaceX to build a lunar lander for the upcoming Artemis Moon project. When choosing SpaceX, NASA handed over the defense company Dynetics and Blue Origin. The latter is now challenging the decision. In a protest filed with the Federal Government Accountability Office (via the New York Times), Jeffs Bezos’ rocket company claims NASA wrongly awarded the contract to its rival.
“NASA made a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goal posts at the last minute. In NASA’s own words, they made a high-risk selection,” a spokesman for Blue Origin told Engadget. “Your decision eliminates competitive opportunities, severely restricts the supply base, and not only delays America’s return to the moon, but also endangers it.”
For the marquee programs, NASA has selected several contractors in the past. This approach encourages competition and protects itself when an organization fails to deliver a project on time. Up until that point, NASA chose SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics when it placed its first moon lander order last year. “[NASA are] Generally pretty good to buy, especially on its flagship missions like America’s return to the lunar surface. We felt these bugs needed to be fixed, ”said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin, in an interview with the New York Times. “We didn’t have a chance to revise and that’s basically unfair.”
Since SpaceX is a “high risk” selection, the plan for which the contract was won is to use its under-development spaceship to transport astronauts to the moon. So far, most of the company’s test flights have ended in fiery explosions. The company, however, had significant success with its two Falcon 9 Crew Dragon rockets, with the two reaching several milestones for SpaceX when NASA’s Crew 2 mission recently docked with the International Space Station.
In particular, Blue Origin is the second Bezos affiliate to get into a contractual dispute with the US government. Last year, citing comments from former President Donald Trump, Amazon questioned the integrity of the $ 10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract that the Department of Defense (DoD) awarded Microsoft. After an internal investigation, the Ministry of Defense stuck to its decision.
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