Blue Origin Protests Against NASA’s Choice of Moon Mission Contractor

16th May 2021
SpaceX Starship

Blue Origin and Dynetics protest NASA’s decision to award its latest moon mission project to SpaceX alone. Originally, NASA intended to pick two of the total three project applicants but eventually went with the lowest bidder, awarding SpaceX $2.9bn for lunar lander technology development. After this announcement, Dynetics and Blue Origin filed protests to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Blue Origin Protests & Its Consequences for NASA

After Blue Origin filed a protest to GAO, NASA was forced to put SpaceX work on the recently awarded contract on hold. The original plan for NASA’s moon mission was to take astronauts to the moon by 2024. Right now, it is not clear where this suspension will lead to mission delay.

The recent space fight goes back to last year, when NASA assigned $967m and 10-month contracts to three companies — SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics. Each applicant was supposed to provide their lunar lander technology for NASA’s planned moon mission. Interestingly, SpaceX received the lowest amount — only $135m, while Dynetics and Blue Origin were granted $253m and $579m, respectively.

SpaceX also bid the lowest amount for its human landing system — $2.89bn. Origin’s bid was higher — $5.9bn, and Dynetics’ estimate was even higher, even though the exact figure has not been disclosed.

NASA has been struggling for funds for some time, which is why it is not surprising that the agency chose the lowest bidder. Even with the lowest three-billion dollar bid, Congress has only granted NASA a quarter of the necessary funds.

The main reason Blue Origin and Dynetics protest SpaceX’s award is that NASA has given SpaceX an opportunity to renegotiate original bid and payment milestones. According to Blue Origin, they could and would have offered a lower price for the moon mission tech if NASA had given them this opportunity.

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