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Blue Origin sues US government over SpaceX lunar lander contract

Blue Origin sues US government over SpaceX lunar lander contract

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States, on Apr 5, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Isaiah J Downing)

WASHINGTON: Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin sued the US government over NASA's decision to award a US$2.9 billion lunar lander contract to Elon Musk's SpaceX.

Blue Origin's lawsuit filed in the US Court of Federal Claims on Friday "challenges NASA’s unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals," the company said in a court filing.

Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) sided with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration over its decision to pick a single lunar lander provider, rejecting Blue Origin's protest.

Blue Origin's lawsuit remains under seal. NASA must file a response to the challenge by Oct 12.

Blue Origin and defence contractor Dynetics have argued that NASA was required to make multiple awards. The GAO said it "denied the protest arguments that NASA acted improperly in making a single award to SpaceX."

Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Amazon.com Inc billionaire Bezos, said earlier it remained convinced that there were "fundamental issues" with NASA's decision, and that GAO was not able to address them "due to their limited jurisdiction".

Blue Origin, headed by Tesla Inc's Musk, said it will continue to advocate for two immediate providers as it believes that to be the right solution.

NASA, which did not immediately comment on the Blue Origin lawsuit, said in July that "GAO's decision will allow NASA and SpaceX to establish a timeline for the first crewed landing on the Moon in more than 50 years".

SpaceX did not immediately comment on Monday.

NASA had sought proposals for a spacecraft that would carry astronauts to the lunar surface under its Artemis program to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.

In April, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract to build such a spacecraft as early as 2024.

Blue Origin had contended NASA gave SpaceX an unfair advantage by letting it revise its pricing.

Bezos has offered to cover up to US$2 billion in NASA costs if the US space agency awarded Blue Origin a lunar landing contract.

Source: Reuters

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