Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin sues NASA over lunar lander contract that went to SpaceX

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, filed a complaint against NASA in federal court on Monday. The lawsuit is a response to Blue Origin’s claims that NASA gave Elon Musk’s SpaceX an unfair contract for a lunar lander earlier this year.

“This bid protest challenges NASA’s unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals,” Blue Origin’s lawyers wrote in its court filing. The sealed complaint was filed in the US Court of Federal Claims.

The Human Landing System for Artemis, the follow-up to the Apollo missions of the 1960s and early 1970s, was previously selected by NASA as the sole provider. Many expected the space agency to choose two companies to design the landers, so the decision to go with SpaceX alone came as a surprise.

In April, Blue Origin filed a formal protest. Last month, NASA’s choice of SpaceX for its human landing system was upheld by the Government Accountability Office, which denied the protest.

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin sues NASA over lunar lander contract that went to SpaceX
Jeff Bezos gives a thumbs-up after returning from space on July 20, 2021. Credit: Blue Origin

In a statement on Monday, Blue Origin said it filed the suit in an attempt to “remedy the flaws in the acquisition process” for NASA’s Human Landing System, adding that the company believes issues “must be addressed to restore fairness, create competition and ensure a safe return to the moon for America.”

NASA said it’s reviewing details of the case. 

“NASA is committed to the Artemis program and the nation’s global leadership in space exploration,” a representative for the space agency said in an emailed statement. “As soon as possible, the agency will provide an update on the way forward for returning to the Moon as quickly and as safely as possible under Artemis.”

Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander concept was unveiled by Bezos in 2019, but the company’s spacecraft development has lagged behind SpaceX in recent years. Blue Origin’s first crewed flight of the New Shepard rocket, with Bezos aboard, took place on July 20. SpaceX successfully completed its third mission to the International Space Station in April.

SpaceX didn’t respond to a request for comment.

READ MORE: See Jeff Bezos and other Blue Origin astronauts in zero gravity (video)

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