Correction: A previous version of this story claimed that the Blue Origin lawsuit was filed on Monday, August 16 when it was actually filled on August 13. The court granted a protective order to seal court documents filed in the case on August 16.
In the latest update to a disagreement over NASA awarding a lucrative lunar lander contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Blue Origin has chosen to sue the agency.
Filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on August 13, the sealed protest seeks to overturn the awarding of a $2.89 billion NASA lunar lander contract awarded to SpaceX in April.
“We firmly believe that the issues identified in this procurement and its outcomes must be addressed to restore fairness, create competition, and ensure a safe return to the Moon for America,” Blue Origin said.
Soon after NASA selected SpaceX as the sole-source supplier of the first round of Artemis lunar lander contracts, Blue Origin filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The move ensured NASA could not move forward with awarding SpaceX the contract for a period of 100 days while the GAO investigated.
On July 26, just prior to the GAO ruling, Blue Origin offered to wave over $2 billion in development costs and launch a demonstration mission to low Earth orbit to secure a contract. NASA acknowledged receipt of the offer but declined to comment further.
Soon after Blue Origin offered to wave over $2 billion in development costs, the GAO rejected Blue Origin’s protest as well as that of Alabama-based Dynetics.
As the options to secure a second contract thinned, Blue Origin next threatened to sue NASA. The agency attempted to avert an embarrassing public spat and further delays by engaging with the disgruntled provider to mediate the issue. These talks reportedly broke down, leading Blue Origin to the nuclear option.
In a statement following the filing of the legal action, Blue Origin said it was attempting to “remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA’s Human Landing System.”
NASA has until October 12 to file a response to Blue Origin’s lawsuit.