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U.S. watchdog rejects Blue Origin protest over NASA lunar contract

FILE Photograph: The NASA symbol is seen at Kennedy Area Centre ahead of the NASA/SpaceX launch of a commercial crew mission to the Global Place Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

July 30, 2021

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. authorities watchdog on Friday sided with NASA about its choice to decide a single lunar lander provider, rejecting a protest filed by Blue Origin and protection contractor Dynetics Inc.

The providers experienced challenged the $2.9 billion award to Elon Musk’s SpaceX for the lander, arguing NASA was essential to make several awards. The Governing administration Accountability Workplace (GAO) stated it “denied the protest arguments that NASA acted improperly in earning a solitary award to SpaceX.”

Blue Origin, the rocket company launched by billionaire Jeff Bezos, explained on Friday it remained persuaded that there have been “fundamental issues” with NASA’s determination, and that GAO was not capable to handle them “due to their constrained jurisdiction.”

Blue Origin said it will carry on to advocate for two rapid companies as it thinks that to be the ideal remedy.

“GAO’s decision will enable NASA and SpaceX to build a timeline for the first crewed landing on the Moon in a lot more than 50 yrs,” NASA mentioned in a assertion on Friday, adding that sending American astronauts to the moon is a priority for the Biden Administration.

Dynetics, a unit of Leidos Holdings, claimed it was disappointed with the final decision, but options to contend for other options introduced by NASA in the long run.

SpaceX did not remark, but Musk sent a tweet saying just “GAO” with a flexed muscle emoji.

NASA experienced sought proposals for a spacecraft that would have astronauts to the lunar surface area underneath its Artemis software to return humans to the moon for the to start with time given that 1972.

In April, NASA awarded https://www.reuters.com/technological innovation/spacex-wins-us-contract-spacecraft-mail-astronauts-moon-washington-post-2021-04-16 SpaceX a agreement to establish this sort of a spacecraft as early as 2024.

Blue Origin experienced contended NASA gave SpaceX an unfair benefit by permitting it revise its pricing.

On Monday, Bezos presented to address up to $2 billion in NASA fees if the U.S. room agency awarded Blue Origin a lunar landing agreement.

In a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Bezos claimed Blue Origin would waive payments up to $2 billion, and pay for an orbital mission to vet its technological innovation. In trade, Blue Origin would settle for a company, fastened-priced deal, and include any program development expense overruns.

“Without competitiveness, NASA’s short-phrase and extended-time period lunar ambitions will be delayed, will finally price tag more, and won’t provide the national fascination,” Bezos stated.

Bezos’ offer came six times following he flew along with three crewmates to the edge of room aboard Blue Origin’s rocket-and-capsule New Shepard.

(Reporting by David Shepardson Added reporting by Nivedita Balu Enhancing by David Gregorio, Rosalba O’Brien and Shinjini Ganguli)

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