Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin sues NASA over SpaceX contract

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Jeff Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, sued the National Aeronautics and Space Administration over the agency’s decision to award a $2.9 billion moon lander contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

The lawsuit, filed Friday n the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington, DC, marks an escalation of Blue Origin’s protests over the contract, which was awarded to SpaceX in April.

“This bid protest challenges NASA’s unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals,” Blue Origin said in its court filing.

Blue Origin’s lawsuit remains sealed and NASA must file a response to the challenge by Oct. 12.

“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,” a Blue Origin spokesperson said in a statement.

It’s Blue Origin’s latest bid to get NASA to award them a second contract for the so-called Human Lander System, which the agency had originally suggested it would do.

Blue Origin accused NASA of “unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals.”
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics, a subsidiary of Leidos, had all bid on the contract for the system, which is seen as a key part of NASA’s plan to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024.

But in an April surprise, NASA awarded a single $2.89 billion contract to Musk’s SpaceX tasking the company with building the next crewed lunar lander.

Blue Origin quickly filed a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office arguing that they were not given a chance to revise their price during the competition, unlike SpaceX.

Blue Origin lander.
Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics all bid for NASA to award them a contract to build a Human Lander System.
AFP via Getty Images

But last month, the GAO said it “denied the protest arguments that NASA acted improperly in making a single award to SpaceX.”

In another attempt to get in on the project, Blue Origin about three weeks ago offered to cover billions in costs if NASA would award it a parallel contract to the one SpaceX received.

Bezos wrote in a letter to NASA administrator Bill Nelson

Jeff Bezos.
Blue Origin quickly filed a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office after the contract was awarded to SpaceX.
AFP via Getty Images

Blue Origin would waive up to $2 billion in payments in the first couple years of the contract.

He also said the company would pay for a demonstration mission to low-Earth orbit if the agency were to award the company a fixed-price Human Landing System contract.

“We stand ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and solve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Program back on a more competitive, credible, and sustainable path,” Bezos wrote in the letter.

Jeff Bezos.
Blue Origin offered to cover billions in costs if NASA would award it a parallel contract to the one SpaceX received.
Getty Images

And since then, Blue Origin has ramped up its jabs at SpaceX, releasing an infographic last week that said SpaceX’s Starship rocket is “a launch vehicle that has never flown to orbit and is still being designed.”

Neither NASA nor SpaceX returned calls for comment.

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