Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin is fighting NASA’s decision to award SpaceX $2.9 billion to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024. NASA’s Human Landing System program was expected to pick two of those landers in April.
NASA announced its decision to pick SpaceX’s Starship rocket system on April 16th, citing the spacecraft’s proposed cost and cargo capacity as key reasons for beating both Blue Origin and Dynetic.
Blue Origin’s 175-page protest, filed with the Government Accountability Office less than two weeks after SpaceX won the contract, accuses NASA of misjudging several parts of its proposal for Blue Moon, the lunar lander it’s developing with a “National Team” of established space and defence contractors: Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Draper.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk responded to the protest with a tweet: “Can’t get it up (to orbit) lol,” he said, apparently referring to the fact that Blue Origin hasn’t launched anything into orbit.
In its protest, Blue Origin asked the GAO to recommend that NASA rescind its award to SpaceX, reissue the competition with a new statement that reflects the funding shortfall, and convene discussions with all bidders on the new process
However, this isn’t Blue Origin’s first bid protest. In 2019, the company challenged the Air Force’s strategy to pick two of four bidding companies to launch the Pentagon’s satellites into space for the next several years.