[imagesource: Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images]
Jeff Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, is suing NASA for choosing to go with Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, for the $2,9 billion lunar lander contract.
Like a schoolchild whose toy was taken away from him by a playground nemesis, his company is claiming that the deal was unfair, adding that it has “fundamental issues”.
NASA set up the reward for the big space companies out there to compete and get their rockets up by as early as 2024, making it the first human mission to the moon since 1972.
Musk ended up winning the contract earlier this year and Bezos has been a rather sore loser ever since.
Of course, it involved some trolling on Twitter, with Musk taking a little jab at Bezos’ manhood after Bezos said that NASA’s decision “eliminates opportunities for competition” and “endangers America’s return to the moon”.
At that point, Blue Origin also filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), per The Verge, arguing that:
NASA should’ve cancelled or changed the terms of the program when it learned it wouldn’t have had enough money to fund two separate contracts.
It also alleged NASA unfairly negotiated the terms of SpaceX’s proposal before making the award, without giving the same opportunities to Blue Origin and Dynetics.
These arguments were rejected by the GAO, confirming that NASA’s decision was fair and lawful.
NASA could only hand the deal to one company, not two as expected, because of a funding shortfall, and SpaceX’s bid was the lowest-priced by some distance:
“After accounting for a contract award to SpaceX, the amount of remaining available funding is so insubstantial that, in my opinion, NASA cannot reasonably ask Blue Origin to lower its price for” its Blue Moon proposal, NASA’s human spaceflight chief Kathy Lueders wrote in a document justifying the agency’s decision to go with SpaceX.
“I do not have enough funding to even attempt to negotiate a price from Blue Origin that could potentially enable a contract award.”
Congress only granted NASA $850 million of the $3,3 billion it requested for the project.
Now Bezos is doing more to delay NASA’s moon mission and discredit SpaceX, knowing that if the roles were reversed, he would probably hate himself.
Speaking in 2019, while moaning about bid protests and lawsuits as barriers to progress in NASA’s lunar efforts, he said:
“Today, there would be three protests, and the losers would sue the federal government because they didn’t win.”
“The thing that slows things down is procurement. It’s become the bigger bottleneck than the technology,” he added. “Which I know for a fact, for all the well-meaning people at NASA, is frustrating.”
Yeah, well, on he goes with the new lawsuit filed with the US Court of Federal Claims to accuse 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.
The BBC notes that SpaceX and NASA have yet to comment on the lawsuit, but that NASA has the backing of the GAO as the federal watchdog.
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