Earlier this month, SpaceX was awarded a $2.89 billion contract to develop landing systems alongside NASA to put people on the moon again as part of the Artemis mission.
The announcement was met with great excitement, as the Artemis mission was moving forward and it certainly seemed possible that it would proceed as planned. However, one company was not so fascinated by the decision. Blue Origin, a spaceflight company owned by Jeff Bezos, has filed a lawsuit against NASA in the government’s accountability office, claiming that they “removed the goalposts” from SpaceX with the sole lander contract.
Originally, NASA was expected to compete for two contracts from three potential agencies (SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynamics), but only decided at the last minute to choose the SpaceX proposal. “In NASA’s own words, it has chosen a‘high risk ’. Their decision removes competition opportunities, significantly shrinks supply base and not only delays, but also threatens America’s return to the moon. That’s why we have lodged a protest with the GAO, “Blue Origin said in a statement to CNBC.
Blue Origin’s Human Landing System (HLS) proposal was significantly more expensive than SpaceX’s, bringing in $5.99 billion in size compared to SpaceX’s $2.89 billion, but Blue Source noted that if NASA had chosen both, the total cost would have fallen under that previous collaboration.
So what exactly does Blue Origin believe was so wrong about the selection process? Well, the protest gives a lot of points. First, Blue Origin believes they were “deprived of a complete and fair opportunity” to amend their application after the budget change. Originally, they believed that NASA had changed the criteria but failed to inform them, resulting in an unequal playing field.
After all, they believe that the ratings given during their technical evaluations were unfair and should have been higher in some cases, as well as some criticisms were unfounded. Blue Origin further believes it was treated unfairly, saying they believe their “abortion strategy” should have been identified as a force, although SpaceX should have been criticized in their favor. In conclusion, they said that the decision to move to only one company was anti-competitive, which was changed only due to potential budget constraints. NASA has not yet publicly responded, but Elon Musk has.
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