Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos‘ space company, is suing NASA over the agency’s decision to award a $2.9 billion (£2.1 billion) lunar lander contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The agreement has “fundamental flaws,” according to the former Amazon CEO’s business, and it is unjust. The dispute originates from a decision made in April to award the contract to one business rather than two as planned due to a funding shortfall.
Although NASA has yet to respond, it has the support of a government monitor.
Blue Origin continues to believe that two vendors were needed to create the landing system, which will bring astronauts down to the Moon’s surface as early as 2024, in a court filing on Friday.
NASA was also accused of “unlawful and improper appraisal” of its ideas during the contract process, according to the company. “We are convinced that the issues raised in this procurement and its outcomes must be addressed in order to restore fairness, establish competition, and assure America’s safe return to the Moon,” Blue Origin said.
NASA’s human exploration chief, Kathy Lueders, said at the time of the grant that the space agency’s current budget prevented it from selecting two businesses. That was after Congress only approved $850 million of the $3.3 billion it sought for the project.
Elon Musk‘s SpaceX firm’s track record of orbital missions was also acknowledged by Nasa as a criterion in the grant. Cost is considered to have played a part as well: SpaceX’s offer was the cheapest by a long shot.
Mr. Bezos proposed to fund up to $2 billion of Nasa’s costs in exchange for being reviewed for the contract in July, but he was turned down.
Meanwhile, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the United States dismissed a complaint filed by Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetic, claiming that Nasa had not “behaved illegally” in awarding the contract to only one company.
NASA has until October 12 to respond to the legal lawsuit. The complaint has yet to get a response from SpaceX.
NASA plans to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972 as part of its Artemis mission. “This vital milestone puts humanity on a route to sustained lunar exploration and keeps our eyes on missions further into the solar system, including Mars,” Ms. Lueders said in April.
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