Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin increased its bid to cover NASA costs for an astronaut lunar lander by more than $ 1 billion this fall when the company argued in federal court over the agency’s award to Elon Musk’s SpaceX .
The space billionaires’ moon lander saga – with NASA in the middle – began in April when SpaceX was the sole winner of a $ 2.9 billion contract to use Musk’s Starship rocket for the Human Landing System (HLS) – Agency’s program was. The decision led Blue Origin to protest to the Government Accountability Office, arguing that there were “fundamental issues with NASA’s decision.”
In July, days before GAO rejected Blue Origin’s protest, Bezos offered NASA coverage up to $ 2 billion for the first two years of the contract. In the open letter to NASA, Bezos said it was “not too late to remedy the situation”. NASA did not publicly respond to the offer, and after Blue Origin sued the agency in August, the company sweetened the offer during its court protest that fall.
Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith increased the proposal from $ 2 billion in private funding “to over $ 3 billion”. Smith said in court that the company would “create valuable competition” and help meet NASA’s “budget and funding shortfall” for the program that resulted in the agency selecting only one company for the HLS contract.
US Federal Judge Richard Hertling wrote in the court’s statement published Thursday explaining why Blue Origin lost the lawsuit that “Blue Origin’s efforts to conduct public relations negotiations following the award as part of its application protest, not enough to make a statement of prejudice. “
“These post-award offers to contribute funds did not exist in front of NASA at the time of award, and NASA was under no obligation to ask Blue Origin to improve its proposal by paying or lowering the price,” noted Hertling.
The US Federal Court of Justice said Blue Origin’s lawsuit was unfounded “because it had no material chance of arbitration,” and even if it did, the company would “lose on the merits.”
“Blue Origin argues that it would have made an alternative proposal, but the court considers its hypothetical proposal to be speculative and unsupported by the files,” wrote Hertling in the court’s opinion.