US watchdog rejects Blue Origin’s protest of NASA lunar lander contract

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) has dismissed protests from Blue Origin and protection contractor Dynetics over NASA’s resolution at hand out a single $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX as half of its Human Landing System program. On Friday, the watchdog said NASA’s “evaluation of all three proposals was reasonable and consistent with applicable procurement law, regulation, and the announcement’s terms.”

When Blue Origin first challenged the lunar lander contract in April, the corporate claimed the choice course of was “fundamentally unfair” as a result of it didn’t get an opportunity to revise its bid. To that time, NASA may afford to present SpaceX the contract as a result of the corporate agreed to switch its fee schedule. Blue Origin additionally took situation with the truth that the house company chosen a single contractor for the challenge when the preliminary announcement had known as for 2 producers to be concerned.

In reviewing NASA’s resolution, the GAO says the house company “did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award.” It notes NASA gave itself the pliability at hand out a single contract, a number of awards or none in any respect when it first introduced the Human Landing System program. 

What’s extra, the GAO concluded there “was no requirement for NASA to engage in discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement” as a result of quantity of funding it had obtainable for the challenge. Notably, the GAO additionally factors in its press launch that its function is to not choose the relative deserves of a contract resolution. Both Blue Origin and Dynetics had argued that NASA selected essentially the most “high risk option available” since SpaceX’s bid concerned its Starship rocket, which at that time within the procurement course of had yet to land in one piece.

“We stand firm in our belief that there were fundamental issues with NASA’s decision, but the GAO wasn’t able to address them due to their limited jurisdiction. We’ll continue to advocate for two immediate providers as we believe it is the right solution,” a spokesperson for Blue Origin mentioned following the choice. “We’ve been inspired by actions in Congress so as to add a second supplier and acceptable further sources to NASA’s pursuit to return Americans to the Moon. We’re additionally very inspired by Administrator Nelson’s feedback over the previous week that reaffirm NASA’s unique intent to supply simultaneous competitors. The Human Landing System program must have competitors now as an alternative of later — that is the very best resolution for NASA and the very best resolution for our nation.”

The resolution comes mere days after Blue Origin founder and former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos provided to waive $2 billion in funds from NASA in return for a lunar lander contract. Following Blue Origin’s protest, NASA advised SpaceX to stop work on the Human Landing System whereas the GAO sorted out the problem. Today’s resolution permits the challenge and the Artemis program extra broadly to maneuver ahead except Blue Origin asks the US Court of Federal Claims to look at the case. 

Update 2:28PM ET: Added remark from Blue Origin. 

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