Blue Origin, the space company led by billionaire Jeff Bezos, has filed a lawsuit against NASA. On Monday, the company filed a complaint with a federal claims court over the agency’s decision to award a lunar lander contract solely to competitor SpaceX.
The complaint, which Blue Origin successfully petitioned to have sealed, claims that NASA’s evaluation of Human Landing System proposals was “unlawful and improper.”
“Blue Origin filed suit in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in an attempt to remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA’s Human Landing System,” a company spokesperson has revealed.
“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,” the spokesperson added.
The Human Landing System, a key component of NASA’s upcoming Artemis program, is the lander that will bring humans back to the moon’s surface for the first time since Apollo. NASA hopes to land a human lander at the lunar south pole in 2024.
NASA awarded the HLS contract to a single company, SpaceX, in April after it submitted a $2.9 billion bid. It was surprising that NASA chose only one company rather than two (the agency likes to hedge its bets).
Only a few weeks later, Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics, which also bid on the lander program, filed separate protests with the Government Accountability Office.
NASA’s decision was later upheld by GAO, which stated that “the contract announcement reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all.”
When the GAO issued its decision, it appeared that the case was over: SpaceX had won, and Blue Origin had lost. This new lawsuit, filed in the United States Court of Federal Claims, is a clear indication that Jeff Bezos’ company will not back down.
If a federal court filing represents Blue Origin’s formal protests, the company has also launched a separate social media campaign, releasing a series of infographics aimed at discrediting SpaceX’s Starship and NASA’s decision to use it for moon missions.
On one infographic, the words “IMMENSELY COMPLEX & HIGH RISK” blaze across the image in red, referring to Starship; another described it as “a launch vehicle that has never flown to orbit and is still being designed.”