Blue Origin Puts Up A Fight After NASA Choses SpaceX For The HLS Contract
On April 16th, 2021 NASA chose SpaceX for their Human Landing System contract. NASA’s HLS contract is what will return American astronauts to the moon. There were three contenders for this contract: Dynetics, SpaceX and Blue Origin. On Monday, April 27th Blue Origin filed a protest against the decision. The company owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns Amazon, released this statement about the decision, “NASA has executed a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goalposts at the last minute. In NASA’s own words, it has made a ‘high risk’ selection. Their decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also endangers America’s return to the Moon. Because of that, we’ve filed a protest with the GAO.” The protest was filed against NASA. They released on Monday a 175-page protest document that they filed with the GAO. In the document, it says that they file this document to challenge the $2.89 billion dollar contract.
They also make clear in the protest that NASA made it sound like initially, they planned to give two awards out. The first flight of Blue Origin’s vehicle New Shepard was 6 years ago on April 29th, 2015. 6 years later the company has still not completed an orbital flight. Did NASA choose SpaceX because they have shown more reliability and brought the return of human spaceflight back to the Florida Space Coast? The answer is yes and no. There were a lot of factors that went into making the decision on who to award the contract to. With that said most likely the fact that SpaceX has had so much success over the past few years went into making the decision for the contract.
Blue Origin says that they are committed to implementing U.S. space priorities by building a robust and resilient launch capability and by developing various space vehicles including lunar landers. This will be the first time NASA has ever chosen a private company to land NASA astronauts on the moon.