Blue Origin sues NASA over lunar exploration contract won by SpaceX

Blue Origin sued NASA over exploration contract won by SpaceX

Jeff Bezos’ space company thus enters a public dispute with that of its competitor, tycoon Elon Musk.

Blue Origin, the space company owned by Jeff Bezos, is suing the US government over its decision to award a massive lunar exploration contract to its competitor SpaceX, it said in a statement Monday.

The company has filed a lawsuit with the US Federal Claims Court “in an attempt to remedy the flaws” in the way the contract was awarded, according to the statement.

The $2.9 billion human landing system (HLS) contract was awarded to SpaceX, owned by Bezos’ billionaire rival Elon Musk, in April.

Other bidders also protested, arguing that NASA was required to make multiple awards and that the evaluation process was unfair.

We strongly believe that the issues identified in this acquisition and its results must be addressed to restore equity, create competition, and ensure a safe return to the Moon for America,” said Blue Origin.

Since losing the contract, Blue Origin has lobbied hard for the decision to be reversed. He filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, but in July the watchdog confirmed NASA’s decision.

NASA said in a statement Monday that it was notified of the Blue Origin lawsuit and that it is reviewing the case.

Launch of a Space X Falcon Heavy (Photo: Europa Press)
Launch of a Space X Falcon Heavy (Photo: Europa Press)

“With our partners, we will go to the Moon and stay to conduct scientific research, develop new technology and create high-paying jobs for the common good and in preparation to send astronauts to Mars,” the statement said.

Under the Artemis program, NASA plans to return humans to the Moon in the middle of this decade and build a lunar orbital station, before a manned mission is sent to Mars in the 2030s.

Musk’s company, founded in 2002, is now NASA’s leading private sector partner.

The tycoon who owns Amazón offered in late July to cover up to $ 2 billion in NASA costs if the US space agency awards Blue Origin a contract to build a spacecraft designed to return astronauts to the Moon.

Blue Origin had partnered with Lockheed Martin CorpNorthrop Grumman Corp and Draper on the offering.

On July 20, Bezos traveled in his own rocket to outer space, a key moment for a fledgling industry that seeks to make the final frontier accessible to elite tourists, accompanied by his brother and two other passengers who marked history as the youngest space traveler and the oldest.

Blue Origin charted its first manned mission, an 11-minute jump from West Texas to beyond the Karman Line and vice versa, to coincide with the 52nd anniversary of the Moon landing.

Joining Bezos was aviator Wally Funk, who at 82 is now the oldest astronaut in history, and Dutchman Oliver Daemen, 18, who became the youngest.

Rounding out the quartet is Jeff Bezos’ younger brother and best friend, Mark, who runs the Bezos Family Foundation and works as a volunteer firefighter.