Bezos’ Blue Origin Protests NASA Awarding Astronaut Lunar Lander Contract To Musk’s SpaceX
“Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office against NASA on Monday, challenging the space agency’s award of a nearly $3 billion moon lander contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX earlier this month,” reports CNBC. In response, Musk teased on Twitter that Bezos couldn’t “get it up (to orbit).” From the report: SpaceX, in a competition against Blue Origin and Leidos’ subsidiary Dynetics, was awarded $2.89 billion for NASA’s Human Landing System program. The HLS program is focused on building a lunar lander that can carry astronauts to the moon’s surface under NASA’s Artemis missions. For HLS, SpaceX bid a variation of its Starship rocket, prototypes of which the company has been testing at its facility in Texas. NASA was previously expected to choose two of the three teams to competitively build lunar landers, making the sole selection of SpaceX a surprise given the agency’s prior goals for the program to continue to be a competition.

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Blue Origin decried the award as “flawed” in a statement to CNBC, saying that NASA “moved the goalposts at the last minute.” “In NASA’s own words, it has made a ‘high risk’ selection. Their decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also endangers America’s return to the Moon. Because of that, we’ve filed a protest with the GAO,” Blue Origin said. Blue Origin revealed that NASA evaluated the company’s HLS proposal to cost $5.99 billion, or roughly twice that of SpaceX. The company argued in its protest filing that NASA’s cost for funding both proposals would have been under $9 billion — or near how much the agency spent for SpaceX and Boeing to develop competing astronaut capsules under the Commercial Crew program.

First, Bezos’ company said NASA did not give SpaceX’s competitors an opportunity to “meaningfully compete” after “the agency’s requirements changed due to its undisclosed, perceived shortfall of funding” for the HLS program. Second and third, Blue Origin said that NASA’s acquisition was flawed under the agency’s acquisition rules and its evaluation of the company’s proposal “unreasonable.” Fourth, the company asserted that NASA “improperly and disparately” evaluated SpaceX’s proposal. And finally, Blue Origin said that NASA’s evaluation of the proposals changed the weight it gave to key criteria, making price “the most important factor because of perceived funding limitations.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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