“Blue Origin is in the position of every disappointed bidder.”
Legal Insurrection readers may recall that in May, NASA ordered SpaceX to halt work on its lunar lander because Blue Origin, the competitor that lost the bid with NASA, was suing over the decision.
It appears that SpaceX can get back to work, as Blue Orgin’s lawsuit has been rejected by a federal judge.
A federal judge on Thursday rejected Jeff Bezos’ latest legal attempt to overturn NASA’s multibillion-dollar moon lander contract with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The decision ended a monthslong battle between the space companies of two of the world’s richest men that posed a significant obstacle to NASA’s plans for returning humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.
The ruling makes it all but certain that whenever American astronauts return to the lunar surface, they will be traveling in a spacecraft built by Mr. Musk’s company. That adds another victory for SpaceX, a company that has become a dominant player in orbital spaceflight, including serving as a primary partner of NASA in carrying astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.
…The ruling by Judge Richard A. Hertling of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied Blue Origin’s arguments and sided with NASA and SpaceX on Thursday, handing Blue Origin its second defeat after it first protested the SpaceX contract unsuccessfully to a government oversight agency earlier this year. But his full order and the rationale it offered was sealed. Whatever the judge’s reasoning, Blue Origin has few other legal avenues to challenge the contract.
Hertling offered a blistering assessment of Blue Origin’s case.
“The Court finds that Blue Origin does not have standing because it did not have a substantial chance of award but for the alleged evaluation errors,” he concluded. “Its proposal was priced well above NASA’s available funding and was itself noncompliant. Blue Origin argues that it would have submitted an alternative proposal, but the Court finds its hypothetical proposal to be speculative and unsupported by the record.”
…Hertling was, at times in the opinion, particularly blunt in his dismissal of Blue Origin’s claims. “Blue Origin is in the position of every disappointed bidder: Oh. That’s what the agency wanted and liked best? If we had known, we would have instead submitted a proposal that resembled the successful offer, but we could have offered a better price and snazzier features and options,” he wrote after rejecting its arguments for an alternative lander concept.
Blue Origin is opting not to appeal this ruling. This is a good decision, as it will allow SpaceX to focus on getting a human landing system launched hopefully soon. The Chinese are breathing down our necks, in terms of the Space Race.
Chinese boots on the moon will be “entirely possible” by 2030 according to senior Chinese lunar program designer and engineer Ye Peijian.
“I personally think that, as long as technological research for crewed moon landings continues, as long as the country is determined, a Chinese crewed moon landing is entirely possible by 2030,” Ye told CCTV state television presenter Lu Jian in a Nov. 12 interview.
Ye’s words do not equate to an official statement of China formally approving a crewed lunar landings, but do reflect recent progress and successes and ongoing development of the various capabilities and components needed to safely land astronauts on the moon and return them to Earth.
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