Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ aerospace company, filed a 175-page protest with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) after SpaceX was the only one that NASA had chosen to build a “human landing system.” (HLS), which will transport astronauts from lunar orbit to the surface of the moon starting in 2024.
The document accuses NASA of misjudging various parts of the Blue Origin proposal: the company’s Blue Moon lander designed to take advantage of existing projects from traditional manufacturers and defense contractors in North America (Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper).
It was the proposal of Blue Origin and NASA’s favorite “national team” alongside that of SpaceX (Starship spacecraft), but NASA decided to rely on SpaceX’s management capabilities, Which has completed more than a hundred orbital missions, including three manned missions to the International Space Station, and is already testing spacecraft models at its facility in South Texas, while Blue Origin has only made suborbital testing flights for unmanned testing using the New Shepherd missile.
NASA was expected to select two companies to compete with each other, presumably SpaceX and Blue Origin, but the massive HLS budget cut by the US Congress tipped the balance in favor of SpaceX. The contract awarded to SpaceX, which includes a test landing and manned landing from the lunar Gateway station to the surface of the moon, is worth $ 2.9 billion, “far less” than Blue Origin was asking for, according to NASA itself.
“NASA carried out a flawed acquisition of the HLS program, and moved the target at the last minute,” Blue Origin says in a statement describing NASA’s decision as a “grave risk”. “His decision eliminates competitive opportunities, drastically reduces the supply base, and not only delays but also endangers America’s return to the Moon. That is why we have lodged a protest.”
In the document, Blue Origin states that NASA did not give the company the opportunity to revise its proposal after learning of weak funding from Congress (in 2021, the budget for the HLS program was reduced from $ 3.3 billion to $ 850 million). The company asserts that NASA unfairly favored SpaceX and ignored technical challenges related to the Starship, including its unproven proposal to refuel in orbit via other Starship.
Elon Musk, the ever-controversial CEO of SpaceX, responded to the invocation of Parody tweet: “You can’t lift it (into orbit) ha ha ha.” The apparent manipulation of words points to the fact that Blue Origin has not yet put a satellite or astronaut into orbit, even though it “cannot lift it” (Can’t get itIt is also an informal term to refer to erectile dysfunction.
In a more serious statement to Washington PostMusk added, “The width of Blue Origin was too high. Twice the height of SpaceX, and SpaceX has much more progress in hardware.” About Jeff Bezos, What Supposedly He is “angry” about this, adding, “I think it needs to run Blue Origin full time for it to succeed. Honestly, I hope that happens.”
After selecting SpaceX as the only prize winner for the Lunar Lander, NASA announced that it will begin working “immediately” on a new competition for other service providers to provide recurring services to the surface of the Moon during the Artemis missions. Blue Origin hasn’t settled on that little and now the GAO will have to review its protest and determine whether to issue recommendations to NASA. If Blue Origin has its way, NASA may have to terminate its contract with SpaceX and re-hold the competition, reflecting a lack of funding that tipped the balance in SpaceX’s favor in the previous process.
This is not the first time that Blue Origin has lodged a protest with the GAO. Depending the edgeIn 2019, the company protested that the US Air Force had selected only two of the four companies that bid for launching Pentagon satellites into space in subsequent years. GAO supported part of its protest, but did not give Blue Origin the victory it had sought.