Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is reportedly suing NASA in a federal court for its decision in awarding the $2.9 billion lunar lander deal to its competitor, Elon Musk's SpaceX.
According to BBC News, Blue Origin is calling the selection unfair and said that there are "fundamental issues" regarding the awarding of the contract awarded to SpaceX in April this year. They expected that NASA would choose two space firms for the lunar lander, but a funding shortfall has led the space agency to select one.
Despite that, Bezos' space firm believes two providers were needed to build the landing system for NASA's Artemis program, which aims to carry astronauts to the Moon in 2024.
"Unlawful and Improper Evaluation" of Proposals
Blue Origin has also accused NASA of "unlawful and improper evaluation" of the Human Landing System proposals during the selection process.
"We firmly believe that the issues identified in this procurement and its outcomes must be addressed to restore fairness, create competition and ensure a safe return to the Moon for America," as quoted by BBC News, Blue Origins said.
NASA's Human Exploration Chief Kathy Leuders admitted that the budget for the lunar lander that was supposedly for two space firms was not granted. Congress only granted them $850 million of the original $3.3 billion it requested for the project.
Moreover, NASA cited that SpaceX already has a proven record of orbital mission, which also became a factor in the award. SpaceX also had the lowest bidding price by some distance compared to Blue Origin and Dynetics.
According to Reuters, NASA is currently reviewing the details of the lawsuit as it must file a response to the challenge by October 12. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) already released their decision and sided with NASA's decision to pick one lunar lander provider. They denied protests on NASA acting improperly in the selection and awarding of the contract to SpaceX.
Meanwhile, NASA said that they are still developing new technologies and will continue their project to the Moon and stay to enable science investigations. They added that the space agency would update the Artemis program as quickly as soon as possible.
NASA's Human Landing System
According to NASA, the Human Landing System is the final mode of transportation that will take astronauts to the Moon's surface under the Artemis program. This is where astronauts will also live for at least a week during the early missions of the program.
In Huntsville, Alabama, NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center was assigned to lead the Human Landing System Program. They are responsible for procuring the development and crewed demonstration of systems and designs by American companies, which will carry back humans to the Moon.
NASA announced last April that it had chosen SpaceX to build the lunar lander but was met with petitions from the Blue Origin and Dynetics. Despite that, NASA experts will work closely with commercial partners to build the HLS, taking a step towards its goal in 2024.
Check out more news and information on the Artemis Mission in Science Times.