Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos has filed a lawsuit against Nasa claiming “unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals” in its procurement.
Bezos’s commercial space travel company Blue Origin is suing Nasa over its decision to award a contract to SpaceX, arguing the process should be re-run.
Nasa awarded the £2.9bn contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX in April to build the lunar lander that will undertake the first human-led mission to the Moon since 1972, but Bezos’ company argued there were “fundamental issues” with the deal.
SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics had been competing for what was originally meant to be two contracts, but Nasa made the decision to only award one contract after funding was cut by Congress.
Nasa had originally requested $3.3bn for the project, but Congress only awarded Nasa $850m.
Bezos had previously offered to waive payments of up to $2bn if Nasa awarded the contract to Blue Origin. Bezos claimed the waiver would help make up Nasa’s funding shortfall, and would allow his company to compete with SpaceX.
A Blue Origin spokesperson told Sky News the company wants to "remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in Nasa's Human Landing System".
"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," they added.
Nasa cited SpaceX’s previous track record of orbital missions as a factor in awarding the contract to the company. SpaceX’s bid was also the lowest bid made by a significant factor.
A Nasa spokesperson said: "Nasa officials are currently reviewing details of the case.
"With our partners, we will go to the Moon and stay to enable science investigations, develop new technology, and create high paying jobs for the greater good and in preparation to send astronauts to Mars."
The federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) stood with Nasa’s decision to pick a single lunar lander provider, rejecting Blue Origin’s and Dynetics’ protests it was unfairly awarded.
The GAO said in a statement last month it “denied the protest arguments that Nasa acted improperly in making a single award to SpaceX”.
Nasa must respond to Blue Origin's lawsuit by 12 October.
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