Blue Origin loses lawsuit against NASA, SpaceX over lunar lander contract

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Blue Origin has lost its lawsuit against NASA and SpaceX over the agency’s decision to award the lunar lander contract to SpaceX.

After having the company’s challenge to the Government Accountability Office denied in July, Blue Origin protested NASA’s award in court, asking for the United States Court of Federal Claims to declare NASA’s decision to award the lunar lander contract to SpaceX null and void, bar SpaceX and NASA from taking any further action on the lunar lander contract, and select a different company to build the lander.

Judge Richard A. Hertling granted a motion by the government to dismiss the case Thursday, and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos tweeted the result Friday morning.

“Not the decision we wanted, but we respect the court’s judgment and wish full success for NASA and SpaceX on the contract.”

Amazon, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos

In April, NASA announced SpaceX had beat out both Blue Origin and Huntsville-based Dynetics for the $2.9 billion contract.

Both companies filed challenges to their non-selections, and the Government Accountability Office denied both challenges in July.

GAO said in their challenges, the companies argued NASA was required to make multiple awards – based on a preference from NASA’s original HLS announcement – and once they determined they didn’t have enough funding for multiple awards, NASA should hold open discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement.

The GAO ruled while NASA expressed a preference for two awards, it was contingent on funding for two awards; after receiving the Blue Origin, Dynetics, and SpaceX proposals, NASA said they only had funding for one award and SpaceX’s was the lowest price and highest rating. The GAO also said NASA had no responsibility to hold open discussions once the agency determined it only had funding for one award.

A few days before the GAO protests were denied, Blue Origin penned an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, offering to amend its bid if the company was awarded the HLS contract.

With Friday’s ruling, NASA said the agency will resume work with SpaceX, which had been halted pending the outcome of Blue Origin’s lawsuit, as soon as possible.

“In addition to this contract, NASA continues working with multiple American companies to bolster competition and commercial readiness for crewed transportation to the lunar surface. There will be forthcoming opportunities for companies to partner with NASA in establishing a long-term human presence at the Moon under the agency’s Artemis program, including a call in 2022 to U.S. industry for recurring crewed lunar landing services.”

NASA Statement

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