Apr 27 (Reuters) – Blue Origin, the space rocket company backed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, is formally challenging NASA’s $ 2.9 billion lunar landing contract to rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The world’s two richest men are facing off in a close global space race, competing for contracts with government agencies and businesses.
Blue Origin said Monday that it filed a protest with the federal Government Accounting Office (GAO), accusing NASA of moving the arch posts for contract bidders at the last minute.
Musk responded with a tweet that said, “I can’t put it (in orbit) hahaha.” He didn’t elaborate on the tweet, but he did post a screenshot of a 2019 report on Bezos that revealed Blue Origin’s lunar lander.
Blue Origin has lagged far behind SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) in orbital transportation, losing billions of dollars in US national security launch contracts starting in 2022. ULA is a Boeing joint venture. Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.
The company suffered another setback earlier in the month, when NASA awarded SpaceX the contract to build a spacecraft to take astronauts to the Moon in 2024, choosing Musk’s company over Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc. project aims to return humans to the Moon for the first time since 1972.
“NASA has executed a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the arch posts at the last minute,” Blue Origin said in an emailed statement.
“His decision eliminates competitive opportunities, significantly reduces the supply base, and not only delays, but also jeopardizes America’s return to the moon. That is why we have filed a protest with the GAO,” he added.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Eric Johnson in Seattle; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)