U.S. regulator rejects Blue Origin’s protest against NASA’s lunar lander contract

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) dismissed Protest of Blue Origin And defense contractor Dynetics on NASA’s decision to distribute a SpaceX’s $2.9 billion contract As part of Manned Landing System Plan. Friday, the Watchdog says NASA’s “assessment of all three proposals is reasonable and consistent with applicable procurement laws, regulations, and announcement terms.”

When Blue Origin first questioned the lunar lander contract in April, the company claimed that the selection process was “fundamentally unfair” because it had no opportunity to modify its bid. At that time, NASA has the ability to provide a contract to SpaceX because the company agreed to modify its payment schedule. Blue Origin also questioned the fact that the space agency selected a contractor for the project, and the initial announcement required the participation of two manufacturers.

In reviewing NASA’s decision, GAO stated that the space agency’s “decision to award only one award did not violate procurement laws or regulations.” It pointed out that when NASA first announced the Human Landing System program, it gave itself the flexibility to issue a single contract, multiple awards, or no contracts at all.

More importantly, GAO concluded that “NASA is not required to participate in the discussion, modification or cancellation of the announcement” because it has sufficient funds for the project. It is worth noting that GAO also pointed out in its press release that its role is not to judge the relative merits of contract decisions. Both Blue Origin and Dynetics believe that NASA chose the “highest risk option available” because SpaceX’s bid involved its Starship rocket, At that point in the procurement process Hasn’t landed yet.

“We firmly believe that there are fundamental problems with NASA’s decision, but due to its limited jurisdiction, GAO cannot solve these problems. We will continue to advocate for two direct providers because we believe this is the correct solution,” said a member of Blue Origin. A spokesperson said after making a decision. “We are encouraged by the action taken by Congress to add a second supplier and appropriate additional resources to support NASA’s operation to bring Americans back to the moon. We are also very encouraged by Secretary Nelson’s comments over the past week, which reiterate NASA offers “simultaneous competition.” The Human Landing System project needs to compete now, not later-this is the best solution for NASA and the best solution for our country. “

The decision was made a few days after Blue Origin founder and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos proposed to give up US$2 billion Payment from NASA in exchange for a lunar lander contract. After Blue Origin’s protest, NASA told SpaceX Stop the work of the human landing system And GAO solved the challenge. Today’s decision allows the project and the Artemis plan to move forward more broadly, unless Blue Origin asks the U.S. Federal Claims Court to review the case.

Update 2:28 PM EST: Added a comment from Blue Origin.

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