Enlarge / Jeff Bezos had hoped to construct a lunar lander for NASA.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
For Blue Origin, the honeymoon is over.
This summer season, the corporate filed a lawsuit towards NASA, claiming that the company ignored its personal necessities when it awarded the contract for the Human Landing System, supposed to take astronauts to the Moon, to SpaceX. Today, the Court of Federal Claims dismissed the case in a one-page ruling, ending a tumultuous chapter within the relationship between the Jeff Bezos-backed house launch startup and the federal authorities.
The ruling was transient, merely granting the federal authorities’s movement to dismiss with out going into element. Judge Richard A. Hertling is giving Blue Origin and the federal government till November 18 to redact the complete opinion earlier than it’s launched to the general public.
“Our lawsuit with the Court of Federal Claims highlighted the important safety issues with the Human Landing System procurement process that must still be addressed,” Blue Origin mentioned in an announcement. “Returning astronauts safely to the Moon through NASA’s public-private partnership model requires an unprejudiced procurement process alongside sound policy that incorporates redundant systems and promotes competition.”
Jeff Bezos was extra conciliatory, saying in a tweet, “Not the choice we wished, however we respect the court docket’s judgment, and need full success for NASA and SpaceX on the contract.”
Blue Origin claimed that, in granting the award to SpaceX, NASA ignored a requirement that bidders submit a flight readiness evaluate (FRR) for every a part of the touchdown techniques. Such conferences permit NASA officers to be briefed on what’s going to occur throughout a mission, giving them an necessary alternative for oversight of public-private partnerships. Blue Origin mentioned that NASA’s request for bids known as for an FRR for each launch and that SpaceX’s bid solely coated one in all greater than a dozen launches.
Not the choice we wished, however we respect the court docket’s judgment, and need full success for NASA and SpaceX on the contract. pic.twitter.com/BeXc4A8YaW
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) November 4, 2021
SpaceX had submitted an FRR for the launch of the spacecraft that may carry astronauts to the Moon however not for the 14 Starship launches that may carry propellant into orbit nor for an extra launch, the aim of which was redacted.
Before the lawsuit was filed, Blue Origin and Dynetics filed complaints with the Government Accountability Office. In reply, the GAO mentioned that, whereas SpaceX wanted to submit further FRRs, the omission from the unique bid wouldn’t have modified the result of the award. Blue Origin additionally mentioned that NASA ought to have made a number of awards as a result of that was the company’s preliminary desire. The firm additionally mentioned that NASA unfairly made the award based mostly on worth, which it hadn’t made a excessive precedence within the request for bids.
The GAO dismissed each arguments, saying that “NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award. NASA’s announcement provided that the number of awards the agency would make was subject to the amount of funding available for the program.” SpaceX’s bid was the very best rated and got here in at $2.9 billion, far lower than both Blue Origin or Dynetics.
Blue Origin mentioned in its lawsuit that if it had identified that NASA was going to disregard FRRs and make price a precedence, the corporate “would have proposed a fundamentally different HLS design,” and it “would have engineered and proposed an entirely different architecture with corresponding differences in technical management and price scores.”
With the Blue Origin lawsuit thrown out, NASA seems to be shifting ahead with its SpaceX contract. “NASA was notified Thursday that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied Blue Origin’s bid protest, upholding NASA’s selection of SpaceX to develop and demonstrate a modern human lunar lander. NASA will resume work with SpaceX under the Option A contract as soon as possible,” the company mentioned in an announcement.