Although one battle between billionaires may have ended, the war on billionaires continues. Forget Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and the brief excursions to the edge of space we witnessed last month. Bezos Blue Origin and Elon Musk SpaceX are the real battle to watch. The stakes are higher than the Karman Line, which is an imaginary boundary that marks the beginning and end of space. NASA is being held hostage by the feud, which could threaten humanity’s most important plan to return to orbit.
In April, NASA picked SpaceX and its Starship concept to provide the vehicle that will carry Artemis astronauts to the surface of the moon as soon as 2024. Blue Origin and Dynetics, who were also applicants, were turned down. After its protests were denied by the US Government Accountability Office, Blue Origin filed a lawsuit against NASA in federal court on Monday.
Blue Origin stated in a statement that Blue Origin had filed suit at the US Court of Federal Claims to correct the flaws found in NASA’s Human Landing System acquisition process. “We believe that this procurement and its results must be rectified to restore fairness, promote competition, and ensure safe return to the Moon for America.”
NASA’s selection of one Human Landing System contractor to its moon mission was surprising. Space agency executives had expressed hope that more than one award would be made to ensure a competitive development process. NASA later claimed that Congress had not appropriated enough funds to provide two contracts. Blue Origin and Dynetics protested, arguing that NASA should have changed the terms of the program when it became apparent it had only the budget to award one contract. The protest also claimed that NASA had improperly negotiated a final pricing point with SpaceX, which was the lowest bidder of all three.
These arguments were rejected by GAO. Blue Origin’s motion to dismiss Monday’s lawsuit under seal indicates that it will be citing the same information submitted to the GAO as well as “additional sensitive data.”
Blue Origin is suing NASA and the federal governments because they sided with Musk, SpaceX and other companies.
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