Blue Origin sues NASA for awarding SpaceX lunar mission contract


17 ago 2021 00:20 GMT

The lawsuit could trigger another hiatus in the SpaceX contract and a further delay in NASA’s race to get astronauts to the Moon by 2024, according to media.

The Jeff Bezos-owned aerospace transportation company Blue Origin took its legal fight against NASA to federal court, reiterating its allegations that the agency wrongly evaluated its proposal to build a vehicle to fly astronauts to the moon.

Blue Origin was one of three companies competing for a contract to bring the first astronauts to Earth’s satellite since 1972. In April, the space agency shelved the company’s proposal for $ 5.9 billion of its Blue Moon landing system and instead opted for SpaceX’s proposed $ 2.9 billion Starship. The contract involves two lunar landings, including one unmanned and one manned test trip, and, according to federal data, SpaceX has already received $ 439 million from NASA to begin its work.

Jeff Bezos’ company filed the lawsuit in the US Court of Federal Claims on Monday against the US space agency in connection with the award of a contract to develop a lunar lander to SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, reports The Verge.

According to the outlet, Blue Origin claims that NASA incorrectly evaluated its proposal for the module’s construction. Portal sources stated that the company notified the judge that it would seek to suspend the execution of the contract while the case was being considered.

In this way, the challenge Bezos’ company could trigger another hiatus in the SpaceX contract and a new prolonged delay in NASA’s race to get astronauts to the Moon by 2024, notes the outlet.

Rejection of Jeff Bezos’ protest

In July, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that NASA’s decision to award SpaceX the contract to develop the spacecraft that will take its astronauts to the Luna under the Artemis program does not contravene US law.

The deal, for $ 2.94 billion, was signed in April only with Musk’s company because “bids submitted by Blue Origin and Dynetics were significantly higher priced“and the space agency” lacked the necessary funds to grant more than one award, “the agency said in a statement.

The Artemis program, which aims to establish a permanent human presence both on the surface and in the lunar orbit, was launched during the term of Donald Trump. Astronauts were expected to return to the lunar surface in 2024, but the Biden Administration says the date is being revised.