Blue Origin’s protest to a U.S. government watchdog against NASA’s decision to award SpaceX a multibillion-dollar contract to develop a lunar lander has been dismissed.
The Government Accountability Office said on Friday it was denying both Blue Origin’s protest and a separate challenge filed by Dynetics, a defense contractor who also submitted a proposal for the contract. The GAO concluded that NASA did not violate any laws or regulations when awarding the only award to SpaceX.
“As a result, GAO has denied protest arguments that NASA acted inappropriately in awarding SpaceX a single award,” the agency said in a statement.
The official protest concerned NASA’s decision to award the contract for the Human Landing System program, which aims to return humans to the moon for the first time since Apollo, only to SpaceX – not two companies, as was originally planned. SpaceX’s proposal for the Human Landing System program was $ 2.9 billion, about half of Blue Origin’s $ 5.99 billion proposal. Earlier this week, Bezos wrote an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson proposing to cut that price by $ 2 billion to address the “short-term budget issues” that prompted NASA to select a company. only company for the contract.
NASA’s decision to award the award to a single company strayed from the historical norm, but GAO maintained that “the [contract] Advertisement reserved the right to award multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all. “
Blue Origin maintains that it did not have time to revise its offer after NASA concluded it did not have enough funds for two awards. “Blue Origin has been clearly aggrieved by the Agency’s failure to communicate this change in requirements,” the company said in the protest. “Blue Origin could have and would have taken several measures to revise its proposed approach, reduce its price to align more closely with the funding available to the Agency and / or propose alternative timing. “
Blue Origin and Dynetics submitted their separate protests in April.
Update: In response to the decision, a spokesperson for Blue Origin told TechCrunch:
“We remain firmly convinced that there were fundamental problems with the NASA decision, but GAO was unable to resolve them due to its limited jurisdiction. We will continue to advocate for two immediate suppliers because we believe this is the right solution.
The spokesperson noted that the company has been encouraged by lawmakers who have added a provision to a bill in the Senate that would require NASA to select two vendors for the HLS program.
Elon Musk, meanwhile, had this to say about the decision …
– Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 30, 2021
TechCrunch has contacted Dynetics for comment. We’ll update the story if they respond.