Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin is protesting NASA’s decision to give Elon Musk’s SpaceX $2.9 billion to land astronauts on the moon by the year 2024 in what is a truly out-of-this-world dummy spit.
NASA’s Human Landing System program funded three lunar lander prototypes (including SpaceX’s and Blue Origin’s), and was expected to pick two of the three to progress with. However, as a result of a lack of funding from Congress, NASA only chose one – Space X’s Starship.
According to NASA, the decision was made because the Starship had a larger cargo capacity, and was more cost-effective than the Blue Origin and Dynetics prototypes.
But just two weeks after SpaceX won the single contract, Bezos’ Blue Origin has filed a whopping 175-page protest with the Government Accountability Office, essentially accusing NASA of not doing their job properly because they didn’t pick his rocket.
Blue Origin asserts that several parts of its proposal for Blue Moon were misjudged by NASA, calling the decision “high risk.”
“NASA has executed a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goalposts at the last minute,” Blue Origin said in a statement on Monday.
“Their decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also endangers America’s return to the Moon. Because of that, we’ve filed a protest with the GAO.”
In an interview with the New York Times, Blue Origin Chief Executive Bob Smith asserted that NASA made serious errors that need to be fixed.
“It’s really atypical for NASA to make these kinds of errors,” Smith said in an interview. “They’re generally quite good at acquisition, especially its flagship missions like returning America to the surface of the moon. We felt that these errors needed to be addressed and remedied.”
The irony of a Bezos-owned company crying about the elimination of competition is not lost on me.
Following the protest, Elon Musk took to Twitter to further rub salt in Bezos’ wounds, asserting that Blue Origin lost the bid because it “can’t get it up (to orbit).”
Can’t get it up (to orbit) lol
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 26, 2021
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time Blue Origin has filed a protest after losing a bid. Back in 2019, the company filed a complaint after Air Force picked two other companies to launch the Pentagon’s satellites into space instead of Blue Origin. Part of that protest was sustained by the GAO, but ultimately, Blue Origin lost the bid.
But none of this is particularly surprising when you consider that two of the world’s richest men are essentially using space exploration as a dick-swinging contest.
NASA is yet to respond to the complaint.