SpaceX is cleared to perform a nearly $3 billion NASA contract to develop technology to land people on the moon after the U.S. Court of Federal Claims dismissed Blue Origin Federation LLC’s protest Thursday.
“NASA will resume work with SpaceX” under the contract “as soon as possible,” the agency said in a news release.
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Judge Richard A. Hertling granted motions to dismiss in a one-page order of judgment. The court’s opinion is under seal, but a public version will be issued after the parties agree on redactions.
In response to the news, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a meme saying “You have been judged!”
“Our lawsuit with the Court of Federal Claims highlighted the important safety issues with the Human Landing System procurement process that must still be addressed,” a Blue Origin spokesperson said Thursday. “Returning astronauts safely to the Moon through NASA’s public-private partnership model requires an unprejudiced procurement process alongside sound policy that incorporates redundant systems and promotes competition.”
Blue Origin claimed that NASA disregarded safety requirements in its decision to select SpaceX and failed to hold proper discussions with Blue Origin.
Going to Court
The court protest followed an unsuccessful challenge at the Government Accountability Office by Blue Origin and Dynetics Inc.
They had argued that making a single contract award was anticompetitive and risky. But the GAO said July 30 that NASA’s solicitation put bidders on notice that it could make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all.
The GAO also rejected claims that NASA engaged in a disparate evaluation by not penalizing SpaceX’s bid for similar weaknesses identified in the protesters’ bids.
NASA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Barnes & Thornburg LLP represented Blue Origin. Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP represented SpaceX.
The case is Blue Origin Fed. LLC v. United States, Fed. Cl., No. 21-1695C, 11/4/21.