Feds dismantle Blue Origin and Dynetics protests of NASA’s SpaceX lunar lander award

Blue Origin and Dynetics are still steaming over NASA’s decision to award only one contract — to SpaceX — to build a Human Landing System for the Artemis program. Their protest of the decision was recently rejected, and now the Government Accountability Office’s arguments, which Blue Origin publicly questioned, are available for all to read. Here are a few highlights from the point-by-point takedown of the losing companies’ complaints.

In case you can’t quite remember (2020 was a long year), NASA originally selected the three companies mentioned for early funding to conceptualize and propose a lunar landing system that could put boots on the moon in 2024. They suggested the next step would be, if possible, to pick two proposals to move forward with. But when the time for awards rolled around, only SpaceX walked away with a contract.

Dynetics and Blue Origin protested the decision separately, but on similar grounds: First, NASA should have awarded two companies as promised, and not doing so is risky and anti-competition. Second, it should have adjusted the terms of the award process when it learned it didn’t have much budget to set aside for it. Third, NASA didn’t evaluate the proposals fairly, showing a bias to SpaceX and against the others in various ways.

The GAO puts all of these concerns to bed in its report — and in the process makes Blue Origin’s follow-up complaint, that the agency’s “limited jurisdiction” meant it couldn’t adequately address the protests, look like the sour grapes it is.

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