US rejects Jeff Bezos’ protest over the award of a lunar program contract to Elon Musk’s company

US rejects Jeff Bezos protest over the award of a lunar program

“The bids submitted by Blue Origin and Dynetics were priced significantly higher” and the space agency “lacked the funds necessary to award more than one award,” alleged the US Government Accountability Office.

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

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

“NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to award only one award. NASA’s announcement stated that the number of awards it would award was subject to the amount of funds available for the program. Additionally, the announcement was reserved. the right to award multiple awards, just one or none. Upon reaching its award decision, NASA concluded that it only had sufficient funds for the award of one contract, “GAO reported.

In light of this, the office rejected the arguments of Blue Origin and Dynetics, who lodged a protest about that decision.

Competition for Artemis

In April 2020, NASA selected three companies as possible constructors of the landers to take astronauts to the Moon in 2024. The space agency signed a contract with SpaceX of 135 million dollars for 10 months, while awarding 579 million to Blue Origins and 253 million to Dynetics.

Following SpaceX’s final choice as sole contractor, Blue Origin  called  the award “poor” and “high risk.” “That decision eliminates competitive opportunities, significantly reduces the supply base, and not only delays but jeopardizes the return of the US to the Moon. For this reason, we have filed a protest with the GAO,” said the firm.

Dynetics, for its part, argued that NASA chose “the most anti-competitive and high-risk option available,” according to SpaceNews. In the opinion of that company, the space agency should have modified its request or ask participants to review their proposals, once it was clear that Congress would only grant 25% of the $3.3 billion requested for fiscal year 2021.

On Tuesday, Jeff Bezos, owner and head of Blue Origin, offered NASA $2 billion to reconsider his company as part of its lunar career.

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.