Washington: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ space venture Blue Origin has lost out on its lawsuit against NASA over a contract to build the space agency’s next human lunar lander, and has wished success to Elon Musk.
The judgement by the US Court of Federal Claims has put an end to Blue Origin’s quest to develop a lander for the space agency, while upholding NASA’s selection of SpaceX to develop and demonstrate a modern human lunar lander.
“Not the decision we wanted,” Bezos said in a tweet, adding that “we respect the court’s judgment”.
Bezos also wished “full success for NASA and SpaceX on the contract”.
NASA in a statement said that it “will resume work with SpaceX as soon as possible”.
Blue Origin sued NASA over its April decision to pick only SpaceX’s Starship rocket system for the agency’s first human lunar landing system since 1972.
The US space agency was expected to pick two lunar lander prototypes (including one of Blue Origin’s) but funding cuts from the US Congress led the agency to select SpaceX over Blue Origin.
In retaliation, Blue Origin applied to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in April, and put SpaceX’s lunar lander contract on hold for 95 days. The GAO squashed its challenge, arguing that NASA “reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all”.
Bezos even offered NASA a discount of up to $2 billion to give his space company Blue Origin the human lunar landing system contract.
When NASA didn’t budge, Blue Origin in a last ditch effort lodged a sealed complaint in federal court in July, which has now been quashed.
In response to the ruling, NASA in a statement said that companies will have opportunities in the future to work on the Artemis programme.
“In addition to this contract, NASA continues working with multiple American companies to bolster competition and commercial readiness for crewed transportation to the lunar surface.
“There will be forthcoming opportunities for companies to partner with NASA in establishing a long-term human presence at the Moon under the agency’s Artemis programme, including a call in 2022 to US industry for recurring crewed lunar landing services,” NASA said.