Blue Origin, the US space company of billionaire Jeff Bezos, filed a protest with the US Congress on Monday (local time) over NASA’s choice for SpaceX. That company won the tender to build a spacecraft that will take American astronauts to the moon for the first time since the 1970s.
“NASA performed a flawed acquisition and moved deadlines at the last minute,” Blue Origin said in statement to news agency AFP. The decision “eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly shrinks the supply base, and not only slows down but also jeopardizes America’s return to the moon,” the private space company said. Reason for the company to file a protest with the US Congress regulator GAO.
NASA announced more than a week ago that it would choose Tesla founder Elon Musk’s company and award SpaceX a $ 2.9 billion contract to develop Starship. But Blue Origin argued that NASA misjudged the risks associated with choosing SpaceX’s “all-new launcher”. This would entail the necessary risks and its development, according to the company, takes longer than expected.
Starship not a success yet
Until now, unmanned test flights with Starship have not been successful. The spacecraft’s landing attempts ended in an explosion. Recently, the US Aviation Authority FAA announced an investigation into safety in some failed tests.
Blue Origin believes that by now only choosing SpaceX, NASA is jeopardizing the lunar project because there is no plan B. In addition, it creates a potential monopoly for all future NASA reconnaissance missions in the company’s eyes.
Bezos, the founder of Amazon, wanted to win the contract with aerospace and defense concerns Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper. He hopes through GAO to increase pressure on NASA to revoke the earlier decision to choose SpaceX.