Jeff Bezos, proprietor of Blue Origin, introduces a brand new lunar touchdown module known as Blue Moon throughout an occasion on the Washington Conference Heart, Could 9, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson | Getty Photos
The U.S. Authorities Accountability Workplace on Friday denied protests from firms affiliated with Jeff Bezos that NASA wrongly awarded a profitable astronaut lunar lander contract solely to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The complaints had been filed by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Leidos’ subsidiary Dynetics.
“NASA didn’t violate procurement regulation or regulation when it determined to make just one award … the analysis of all three proposals was cheap, and per relevant procurement regulation, regulation, and the announcement’s phrases,” GAO managing affiliate common counsel Kenneth Patton wrote in a press release.
The GAO ruling backs the house company’s shock announcement in April that NASA awarded SpaceX with a contract price about $2.9 billion. SpaceX was competing with Blue Origin and Dynetics for what was anticipated to be two contracts, earlier than NASA solely awarded a single contract on account of a lower-than-expected allocation for this system from Congress.
NASA, in a press release, mentioned that the GAO resolution will permit the company “to determine a timeline for the primary crewed touchdown on the Moon in additional than 50 years.”
“As quickly as potential, NASA will present an replace on the way in which forward for Artemis, the human touchdown system, and humanity’s return to the Moon. We are going to proceed to work with the Biden Administration and Congress to make sure funding for a sturdy and sustainable strategy for the nation’s return to the Moon in a collaborative effort with U.S. industrial companions,” the U.S. house company mentioned.
A Blue Origin spokesperson instructed CNBC that the corporate nonetheless believes “there have been basic points with NASA’s resolution, however the GAO wasn’t in a position to tackle them on account of their restricted jurisdiction.”
“We’ll proceed to advocate for 2 rapid suppliers as we imagine it’s the proper resolution,” Blue Origin mentioned. “The Human Touchdown System program must have competitors now as a substitute of later – that is the perfect resolution for NASA and the perfect resolution for our nation.”
SpaceX and Dynetics didn’t reply to CNBC requests for remark. Musk, for his half, weighed in on the GAO’s ruling with a single flexing arm emoji in a tweet.
Starship prototype rocket SN15 launches from Boca Chica, Texas.
The GAO protest ruling resolves a dispute round NASA’s Human Touchdown System program, one of many closing key items of the company’s plan to return U.S. astronauts to the floor of the moon.
Earlier than the latest contract award, NASA had handed out practically $1 billion in idea growth contracts – with SpaceX receiving $135 million, Dynetics 253 million, and Blue Origin receiving $579 million.
In selecting SpaceX for the subsequent spherical of growth, NASA determined to fund a variation of SpaceX’s Starship rocket, prototypes of which SpaceX has been testing at its growth facility in Boca Chica, Texas.
NASA plans for its astronauts to make use of Starship to switch from the company’s Orion spacecraft when the capsule reaches lunar orbit.
Blue Origin and Dynetics’ protests
Shortly after NASA’s announcement in April, Blue Origin and Dynetics every filed protests with the GAO, difficult the house company’s course of and resolution.
Blue Origin in April decried the award as “flawed,” saying that NASA “moved the goalposts on the final minute.”
The corporate additionally revealed that its proposal was roughly double that of SpaceX, with a bid of $5.99 billion. NASA later revealed that Dynetics’ bid was even larger, at $8.5 billion.
One impact of the protests is that NASA has been unable to maneuver ahead with work on HLS with SpaceX, with work basically halted on this system till the GAO’s resolution.
Shortly after flying himself to house on Blue Origin’s first crewed flight, Bezos wrote in a letter to NASA earlier this week that he would cowl as a lot as $2 billion within the house company’s prices for a lunar lander contract.
“We stand prepared to assist NASA reasonable its technical dangers and clear up its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Program again on a extra aggressive, credible, and sustainable path,” Bezos wrote within the letter.
Blue Origin communications vice chairman Linda Mills instructed CNBC in an e-mail that there’s “no change to the provide” Bezos made after the GAO ruling.
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