In the good old days, before private enterprise had such a foothold in the space industry, NASA only had to worry about Congress budgets. Now if awards a contract to one Big Tech company, it has to justify the decision in court, which can take years.
For those who came in late, this complaint escalates a monthslong crusade by the company to win a chunk of lunar lander funds that was only given to its rival, Elon Musk's SpaceX and comes weeks after Blue Origin's first protest over the Moon programme was squashed by a federal watchdog agency.
Blue Origin's challenge could add another pause to SpaceX's contract and a new lengthy delay to NASA's race to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024. It also quashes any belief that the corporate billionaires funding the push into space really care that much about the bigger picture.
Blue Origin's complaint, filed with the US Court of Federal Claims, was shrouded behind a protective order. The company is broadly challenging NASA's decision to pick SpaceX for the lunar lander award, and "more specifically ... challenges NASA's unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals submitted under the HLS Option A BAA, according to its request to file its complaint under seal.
Blue Origin was one of three firms vying for a contract to land NASA's first astronauts on the Moon since 1972. In April, NASA shelved the company's $5.9 billion proposal of its Blue Moon landing system and went with SpaceX's $2.9 billion Starship proposal instead, opting to pick just one company for the project after saying it might pick two. Limited funding from Congress only allowed one contract, NASA has argued.