Elon Musk's SpaceX Looking At Further Delays For Lunar Lander Project As Bezos' Blue Origin Legally Challenges NASA's Contract Award

In what could be a setback for Tesla Inc TSLA CEO Elon Musk's SpaceX, Jeff Bezos-founded commercial space flight company Blue Origin has sued NASA over a lunar lander contract awarded to the former.

What Happened: Last Friday, Blue Origin filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims challenging what it claimed to be NASA's "unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals."

For the uninitiated, Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics were the three companies that had sought NASA's contract to build spacecraft to land the first astronauts on the moon since 1972.

Despite NASA suggesting that it would issue multiple awards, it finally decided in favor of SpaceX's Starship proposal. The contract awarded to SpaceX is valued at $2.94 billion. Blue Origin's bid was valued at $5.9 billion.

Blue Origin, along with Dynetics, filed its protest in April with the U.S. Government Accountability Office regarding the contract award. The companies argued the agency was required to make multiple awards, in line with the announcement's stated preference for multiple awards.

Once NASA realized it had less funding than required for multiple awards, it should have opened discussions, amended or canceled the announcement, the companies said.

Additionally, they took exception to NASA improperly waiving a mandatory solicitation requirement for SpaceX.

Related Link: Space Tourism Has Officially Taken Off

The GAO, however, denied the protests in late July, concluding that the evaluation of all three proposals was reasonable and consistent with applicable procurement law, regulation and the announcement's terms.

Following Bezos' successful space trip in late July, he offered to waive off $2 billion from the contracted amount. Bezos is the founder of Amazon.com, Inc. AMZN and recently stepped down as CEO.

Why It's Important: The protest made to the GAO prevented SpaceX from starting its contract for 95 days during the adjudication of the case.

The lawsuit filed with the federal court is expected to stall the contract, resulting in potentially a lengthy delay. NASA's contract aims at landing the astronauts on the Moon as early as 2024.

"The lawsuit is an attempt to remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA's Human Landing System. 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," the Verge reported, citing a Blue Origin spokesperson.

Related Link: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk Books A Flight With Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic

Image: Tumisu from Pixabay 

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Posted In: NewsLegalMediaBlue OriginDyneticsElon MuskJeff BezosNASASPACEspace stocksSpaceX
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