Jeff Bezos is using NASA over $2.9b deal with Elon Musk
Business | Space | Space Travel
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’s space firm Blue Origin is suing Nasa over a decision to award a $2.9b USD lunar lander contract to Tesla’s Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The former Amazon boss’s firm said there were “fundamental issues” with the deal, calling it unfair when in April 2021 NASA decided that due to fiscal restrictions they had to cut the deal down from two providers to just one single private contractor.
NASA is yet to comment, but says it has the backing of the relevant federal watchdog.
Court filings show that Blue Origin claims to believe that two providers were needed to build the landing system, which will carry astronauts down to the Moon’s surface in 2024. The court filings also accuse Nasa of “unlawful and improper evaluation” of its proposals during the tender 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.” Blue Origin said.
At the time of the award, NASA claims that their human exploration chief, Kathy Lueders, admitted that the space agency’s current budget precluded it from selecting two companies. That was after Congress granted NASA $850m USD instead of the $3.3b USD it requested for the project. NASA also cited “the proven record of orbital missions by Elon Musk’s SpaceX firm” as a factor in the award. Cost is also thought to have played a large role: SpaceX’s bid was the lowest-priced by some distance.
In July 2021 Bezos offered to cover up to $2b USA of NASA’s costs in order to be reconsidered for the contract, but he was rebuffed.
US watchdog the Government Accountability Office (GAO), meanwhile, rejected a complaint from Blue Origin and defence contractor Dynetic, saying that Nasa had not “acted improperly” in handing the contract to just one firm.
NASA must file a response to the legal action by 12 October 2021. SpaceX is yet to comment on the lawsuit.
Under its Artemis programme, NASA hopes to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.
© 2021 Al-Sahawat Times, Printed and Distributed by IPMG, an Al-Said Group entity.
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