NASA Tells Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Stop Work on Lunar Landing After Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins Protested Contract
Meanwhile, SpaceX successfully completes company’s first full-fledged crewed mission to the International Space Station.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has suspended its contract with Elon Musk’s SpaceX for the landing system to take astronauts to and from the lunar surface.
Two other competitors for the contract, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ firm Blue Origin, filed protests with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). As a result, NASA issued the stop-work order until GAO resolves the matter.
NASA awarded 10-month contracts to three companies one year ago today to further develop their concepts for Human Landing Systems (HLS) as part of the Artemis program to return astronauts to the lunar surface: SpaceX, Dynetics, and Blue Origin’s “National Team” that includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft will take crews to lunar orbit, but they will finish the journey using HLS.
Two weeks ago, NASA chose SpaceX to proceed into development, awarding it a $2.99 billion fixed price contract. It is only for the first Artemis landing and a precursor uncrewed flight test. NASA is issuing a separate solicitation for landing systems for future missions.
Blue Origins filed a 50-page complaint shortly after NASA gave the contract to SpaceX.
Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, said NASA’s decision was based on flawed evaluations of the bids — misjudging advantages of Blue Origin’s proposal and downplaying technical challenges in SpaceX’s. He also said NASA had placed a bigger emphasis on bottom-line cost than it said it would.
“It’s really atypical for NASA to make these kinds of errors,” Mr. Smith said in an interview. “They’re generally quite good at acquisition, especially its flagship missions like returning America to the surface of the moon. We felt that these errors needed to be addressed and remedied.”
He added that in any case, the space agency should have stuck with a desire it had stated many times, of wanting to hand out awards to two companies.
Musk took the move by NASA with humor and in stride.
Musk trolled his fellow multibillionaire Bezos on Monday, joking that he ‘can’t get it up (to orbit)’ after the Amazon founder’s space company filed a protest against NASA for picking rival SpaceX to build a lunar lander.
Musk took to Twitter to tease Bezos over that lawsuit on Monday evening, and replied to a tweet sharing a New York Times story about the space wrangle, writing: ‘Can’t get it up (to orbit) lol.’
Bezos’ company said that its bid was $5.99billion while SpaceX’s bid came in at $2.91billion, according to AL.com.
Musk’s Starship – the futuristic, shiny steel rocketship that’s been launching and -on one occasion – exploding in Texas – beat out landers proposed by Bezos’ Blue Origin and Dynetics, a Huntsville, Alabama-based subsidiary of Leidos.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2021
Meanwhile, a SpaceX Dragon capsule carrying four astronauts returned to Earth early Sunday with an ocean splashdown off the Florida coast. This event marked the successful completion of the company’s first full-fledged crewed mission to the International Space Station.
The astronauts of SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission for NASA splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City at 2:56 a.m. EDT (0656 GMT), with a recovery ship swiftly retrieving their Crew Dragon capsule from the sea. The spacecraft landed on target, marking the first nighttime splashdown of a U.S. crewed flight in 53 years. The last was NASA’s Apollo 8 moon mission on Dec. 27, 1968.
“Dragon, on behalf of NASA and SpaceX teams, we welcome you back to planet Earth and thanks for flying SpaceX. For those of you enrolled in our frequent flier program, you’ve earned 68 million miles [109 million kilometers] on this voyage,” a SpaceX crew operations and resources engineer told the Crew-1 astronauts after splashdown.
“It is good to be back on planet Earth,” replied NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, commander of the Crew-1 mission. “We’ll take those miles. Are they transferable?”
Blue Origin has yet to have one successful orbital flight. On the other hand, SpaceX has now sent astronauts to the ISS and returned them safely, effectively reused first-stage rockets, and launched a Tesla into space. So instead of battling in the courts, Team Bezos should divert some of its enormous wealth and resources into actually launching cost-effective and practical space technology.
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“So instead of battling in the courts, Team Bezos should divert some of its enormous wealth and resources into actually launching cost-effective and practical space technology.”
Now why the hell would they do that?
Liberals are in total control now. Being cost-effective and practical is literally THE LEAST important part of government spending.
Why would they actually make a better product when they can spend a hell of a lot less money to just bribe the right judge and politicians?
Bezos should try to produce results, you say?
I wish the court would just tell Bezos, “Fly something first, then get back to us.” So of course, that will never happen.
Elon needs to buy an influential liberal newspaper.
Musk is going to be pissed.
>> Not a good idea to piss-off someone as competitive and as smart as Musk.
No surprise here. One can agree or disagree with Kennedy administration’s goal to land men on the Moon, but the fact is that it happened. Fast-forwards a few decades to when the Obama administration couldn’t even get the crappy Obamacare website to work properly, but he did successfully turn the FBI into the American Stasi.
No doubt the Biden* administration will experience a similar (lack of) success on the space front, as battling “insurrectionists” and “white supramacists” takes priority. But hey! – no more Tweets from Trump, and the Communists will never lose another national election. Now that is the important thing, amirite NeverTrumpers?
1. Costs almost twice as much
2. No deliverables to date
Of course the solution is to sue. Their basic position is, the contractors looked at the proposals, concluded it was a no-brainer, and failed to write up their decision to the loser’s lawyer’s satisfaction.
Two multi billionairs fighting over who is going to get the government check.
Yes and no.
‘Settling the moon’ or ‘colonizing the moon’ is frankly idiotic because there’s nothing on the moon that we need.
Pretty much the ONLY thing that a moon colony would be useful for would be spaceship construction, because any ship built on Earth has to be capable of attaining and withstanding the force necessary for escape from Earth’s gravity.
But since we have absolutely no real plans for such ships, there is absolutely nothing on the Moon that we want or need – no natural resources, no meaningful atmosphere, and without artificial gravity personnel would have to be constantly changed in and out (the health effects of living in near-zero gravity are significant after only a few months).
In short, the Moon is worthless as anything other than a stepping stone to another goal.
It’s a frontier, wistfully viewed by those whose attempts at creating extraterritorial island polities were illegally crushed by established polities.
I get the sentiment, but –
One check is half the other. And either check is a tenth of what NASA would spend with it’s own program.
Is that a joke?
NASA isn’t capable of ANYTHING at this point. They’ve lost the ability to retain actual talent, and they outsource pretty much everything technical.
If NASA tried to do it themselves at this point it would spend 10 times as much and produce nothing.
Kinda like Bezos’ Amazon Prime: Pay for the privilege of guaranteed one- or two-day delivery and get your items days after the guaranteed date.
Really? I live out in the backass of nowhere, and I’ve never gotten a late delivery from Amazon Prime.
Last week AMZN sued because MSFT won a government contract.
Reminds me of a story starring John Galt.
SpaceX is routinely putting satellites into orbit and has flown three crews to the ISS. They routinely recover and reuse their boosters instead of throwing them away. They are also deep in out-of-pocket development of their Starship, which forms the basis of the Lunar Landing System.
Blue Origin, on the other hand has yet to fly anything into orbit and has not flown a crewed mission on even a sub-orbital flight. But they want to protest NASA’s selection of SpaceX over them.
My concern is how much influence Bezos and his corporate newsletter, the Washington Post, has with the administration that they can use to meddle with SpaceX’s progress.
I would note that Blue Origin’s “National Team” includes Lockheed Martin – who is notorious for protesting when they don’t win, so they may be a driving force in this (and or maybe Northrop Grumman too). Lots of years of experience gaming the evaluation criteria and source selection. It’ll be interesting to see the resolution.
I prefer Musk prevail over Bezos. He clearly is a better person, and better businessman.
Hey, Elon — just shut your doors while our lawyers twiddle their thumbs.
And wear your damn mask.
We need that clown Bezos in space like we need him on Earth: Not at all.
I vaguely recall a time in the 1980’s (?) when Boeing submitted a proposal to the USAF for a heavy lifter built on the 747 platform but lost to the Lockheed C5. It wasn’t the original contract but a follow on buy. Rather than accept the loss, Boeing pulled some political strings to influence the decision after the fact and found themselves in the doghouse with DoD procurement for awhile. I vaguely recall Boeing criticized the USAF as being short sighted – arguing their 747 variant would handle 90% of the USAF needs and only the truly ‘outsized’ equipment would need the C5, which the USAF already had in inventory.
I’m sure things have changed in 30+ years, but back then it proved majorly stupid to suggest the contractor knew better what the USAF needed than they did, and that they bungled the bid evaluation. Then again, human nature is unchanged, so maybe NASA will teach Bezos a much needed lesson.
biden shows up bezos bitches and NASA suspends Musk’s award and proven Dragon capabilities. bezos has his cognitively delayed lap dog and his kennel in the WH, Riddle me this : why doesn’t bezos file a complaint against Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J because Amazon could have been a vaccine contender too.
Lex Luthor (Bezos) vs Tony Stark (Musk)
Inter-dimensional crossovers are allowed. Inter-corporate ones are strictly forbidden.