Today, a federal judge rejected blue origin’s challenge to a $2.9 billion contract awarded by NASA to SpaceX to build a lunar lander to send astronauts to the moon.
The space start-up company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once argued that NASA gave SpaceX too much leeway before awarding the contract in April, but Richard Hertling, a judge of the U.S. Federal Claims Court, rejected Lanyuan’s argument. His comments were sealed and awaiting a meeting on November 18 to discuss what details needed to be revised for competitive reasons.
NASA said in a statement that it would resume cooperation with SpaceX “as soon as possible” in accordance with the terms of the contract
Bezos said on twitter that today’s ruling “is not the decision we want, but we respect the court’s decision and wish NASA and SpaceX a complete success in the contract.”
Blue origin said in another statement that its lawsuit raised “important safety issues that still need to be solved in the procurement process of human landing system”. This seems to mean that the company accused NASA of abandoning some of SpaceX’s flight readiness review requirements.
Blue origin said, “through NASA’s public-private partnership model, the safe return of astronauts to the moon requires a fair procurement process and sound policies, including redundant systems and promoting competition.”.
We also contacted SpaceX and we will update the story with any news we hear. Elon Musk, chief executive of SpaceX, responded to the ruling on twitter with the words of judge Dredd meme. He said, “you have been tried!”
The ruling means that SpaceX can resume its work as early as 2024 and convert its huge starship into a landing system to send astronauts to the lunar surface, although this date will almost certainly be postponed.
Throughout the legal challenge, SpaceX has been building prototypes of the Starship and testing the ship’s methane fueled Raptor engine at its boccachica interstellar base in southern Texas. The company envisions using starships not only for lunar missions, but also for travel to and from earth orbit, and eventually for Mars.
Today, NASA said it would support a number of commercial efforts to develop a lunar landing system as a follow-up to the lunar landing of a starship. Blue origin and its two industry partners, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, have been involved in these efforts.
NASA promised: “the company will have the opportunity to cooperate with NASA to establish a long-term human presence on the moon according to the Artemis plan of NASA, including calling on American industry to provide regular manned lunar landing services in 2022.”.
Lanyuan said that it remained “firmly committed to the success of the Artemis program” and pointed out that it “signed a number of contracts with NASA to achieve the goal of the United States returning to the moon and has a broad activity foundation.”
Blue origin said, “we fully cooperate with NASA to mature sustainable lander design, reduce various technical risks, and provide commercial lunar payload services.”. “We also signed a contract with NASA to develop in-situ resource utilization technology, lunar space robots and lunar landing sensors, including testing on the new Shepard.”
The company said that in purchasing the human landing system, it would “look forward to hearing from NASA about the next step”.