Bezos’ Blue Origin loses lawsuit in opposition to NASA over SpaceX lunar lander

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Jeff Bezos, left, and Elon Musk

Getty Images; Reuters

The US federal court ruled against Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in the company’s lawsuit against NASA over a lucrative lunar landing contract for astronauts awarded to Elon Musk’s SpaceX earlier this year.

Federal Judge Richard Hertling sided with the defense in his ruling, ending a month-long battle after Blue Origin sued NASA in August.

A spokesman for Blue Origin said in a statement to CNBC that the company’s lawsuit “highlighted the important security issues in the Human Landing System procurement process that remain to be addressed.”

“The safe return of astronauts to the moon through NASA’s public-private partnership model requires an unbiased procurement process as well as solid policies that incorporate redundant systems and encourage competition. Blue Origin remains committed to the success of the Artemis program, ”the company said.

NASA and SpaceX did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling.

Musk tweeted a photo from the 1995 film “Judge Dredd” in response to CNBC’s report of the verdict.

In April, NASA awarded SpaceX the sole contract for the agency’s Human Landing System program as part of a competitive process. The $ 2.9 billion SpaceX contract calls for the company to use its Starship rocket to take astronauts to the surface of the moon for NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions.

A variation on SpaceX’s Starship rocket for NASA’s HLS program.

NASA

SpaceX was likely to compete with Blue Origin and Dynetics for two contracts before NASA awarded a single contract due to a lower allocation to the program from Congress.

Blue Origin quickly protested the decision to the US Government Accountability Office, but GAO dismissed the company’s appeal in late July – causing Bezos’ space company to escalate its legal action.

An edited version of Blue Origin’s lawsuit revealed that the company’s complaint was focused on proving that NASA wrongly awarded the contract to SpaceX only, “disregarding critical flight safety requirements.”

Hertling’s ruling dismissed Blue Origin’s claims. The court’s verdict is currently sealed as the case contains proprietary information, but Hertling asked the parties to submit the proposed edits by November 18 in order to publicly release the opinion.

NASA’s work with SpaceX on the HLS contract was halted during the litigation, but is set to resume on Monday.

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