Over a week ago, NASA awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX a $ 2.9 billion contract to build a lunar lander for his next Artemis Moon Project. In deciding on SpaceX, NASA ignored defense contractor Dynetics and Blue Origin. The latter is now contesting the decision. In a protest lodged with the federal Government Accountability Office (via The New York Times), Jeff’s Bezos rocket company claims NASA improperly awarded the contract to its rival.
“NASA made a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goalposts at the last minute. In NASA’s own words, it made a ‘high risk’ selection,” a carrier said. Blue Origin speaks to Engadget. “Their decision eliminates competitive opportunities, drastically reduces the supply base, and not only delays, but also jeopardizes America’s return to the moon.”
When it comes to its flagship programs, NASA has always chosen several entrepreneurs. This approach was taken to promote competition and protect itself if an organization cannot deliver a project on time. At this point, NASA chose SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics when it awarded the initial lunar lander contract last year. “[NASA are] generally quite good at acquisition, especially its flagship missions like America’s return to the surface of the moon. We felt that these errors needed to be corrected and corrected, ”said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin, in an interview with The New York Times. “We haven’t had a chance to revise and that’s fundamentally unfair.”
As for SpaceX being a “high risk” selection, the plan for which it won the contract is to use its in-development Spatialship to transport astronauts to the Moon. So far, most of the company’s test flights have ended in flaming explosions. However, the company had significant success with its two Falcon 9 Crew Dragon rockets, both achieving several milestones for SpaceX during NASA’s Crew-2 mission recently docked at the International Space Station.
Notably, Blue Origin is the second Bezos affiliate to enter a contractual dispute with the US government. Last year, Amazon, citing comments from former President Donald Trump, challenged the integrity of the $ 10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract the Department of Defense (DoD) assigned to Microsoft. After an internal investigation, the DoD ended up sticking to its decision.
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