December 7, 2021

Jeff Bezos sues NASA over deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX

NASA also cited the proven record of orbital missions by SpaceX as a factor in the award

Jeff Bezos sues NASA over deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX

Jeff Bezos sues NASA over deal with Elon Musk’s SpaceX photo credit: BBC

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’s space firm, is suing NASA over their decision to award a $2.9 billion lunar lander contract to SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company.

The former Amazon CEO claimed that there were “fundamental issues” with the deal, calling it unfair.

This row stems from a decision that NASA made in April to hand the deal to one company, instead of two, due to a funding shortfall. In a court filing on Friday, Blue Origin said that it continued to believe that two providers will be needed to build the landing system, which will carry astronauts to the Moon’s surface as early as 2024.

Blue Origin accused NASA of “unlawful and improper evaluation” of its proposals during the tender process. “We firmly believe that the issues identified in this procurement and its outcomes must be addressed to restore fairness, create competition and ensure a safe return to the Moon for America,” Blue Origin said.

At the time of the award, NASA’s human exploration chief, Kathy Lueders, admitted that the space agency’s current budget was not enough to select two companies after Congress only granted it $850 million of the $3.3 billion it had requested.

NASA also cited the proven record of orbital missions by SpaceX as a factor in the award, with cost also been thought to have played a role as SpaceX’s bid was the lowest-priced.

In July, Bezos offered to cover the cost of up to $2 billion of NASA’s costs in order to be reconsidered for the bid but he was rebuffed. US watchdog, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), rejected a complaint from Bezos and defense contractor Dynetic, saying that NASA had not “acted improperly” in handing the contract to only one firm.

NASA must file a response to the legal action by 12 October 2021. SpaceX has not yet made a response to the lawsuit.

Sources: BBC

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