U.S. Government Rejects Blue Origin’s Protest Of NASA Decision To Award SpaceX A Starship Lunar Lander Contract

U.S. Government Rejects Blue Origin’s Protest Of NASA Decision To Award SpaceX A Starship Lunar Lander Contract

Humans have not set foot on the Moon since 1972, NASA aims to return in 2024 under the Artemis program designed to build a sustainable human presence on our closest celestial neighbor. NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.89 billion Human Landing System (HLS) contract to develop a Starship to land astronauts on the Moon. The agency’s selection faced protests from competitors, Blue Origin’s ‘The National Team’ and Dynetics, that also bid for the HLS contract.

Boeing and Dynetics filed protests against the agency’s selection, stating they believed it was “unfair” and that NASA should have selected at least two companies to work on lunar landers. NASA said in April it awarded only one HLS contract because it had limited funding from Congress for the program. In response, Boeing’s founder Jeff Bezos recently wrote a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on July 26, in which he requested a chance to compete with SpaceX and offered to cover up to $2 billion in lunar lander development costs to cover the budget constraints if The National Team was given the HLS contract opportunity.

On Friday, July 30, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) rejected the HLS contract protests that were filed by Blue Origin and Dynetics. GAO said in a written announcement: “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,” they wrote. “In addition, the announcement reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all. In reaching its award decision, NASA concluded that it only had sufficient funding for one contract award. GAO further concluded there was no requirement for NASA to engage in discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement as a result of the amount of funding available for the program.” NASA did not “act improperly in making a single award to SpaceX.” 

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SpaceX founder Elon Musk reacted to the announcement by tweeting “GAO” with a flexed-bicep emoji. SpaceX is actively developing the Starship launch vehicle at Starbase in South Texas. The company targets to conduct the first orbital test flight this year. Engineers are developing a fully-reusable launch system that will be more powerful than all rockets in history, even Saturn V that landed astronauts on the Moon. The lunar-optimized Starship will be capable of transporting astronauts and cargo, the ships could also become the first living structures on the lunar surface where astronauts can work in. 


About the Author

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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