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Space News reported in its original article that the Court of Federal Claims denied Blue Origin’s lawsuit against NASA about its selection of SpaceX’s Starship for a single Human Landing System award. 

NASA arranged the Artemis program with a crucial task: to bring humans back to the Moon. The space agency is working with different space-oriented companies to build rockets and spacecraft that would help to send the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface. NASA’s vital step right now is to build a vehicle that can safely carry people to and from the Moon. This ambitious project is a feast for a company like Blue Origin. Unfortunately for them, NASA has chosen SpaceX. 

In a one-page filing Nov. 4, Judge Richard A. Hertling granted a motion by the federal government, the defendant in the case, to dismiss the case filed by Blue Origin in August. The full opinion, like other filings in the case, remains under a protective order, although Hertling requested the parties in the case to propose redactions for a public version of the opinion by Nov. 18.

Blue Origin filed suit Aug. 16 after the Government Accountability Office rejected protests filed by both Blue Origin and Dynetics to the HLS award NASA made in April. Both the protests and the later lawsuit suspended work on the HLS program, although the parties to the suit agreed to an expedited schedule for the case that originally called for a final ruling by Nov. 1.

In its suit, Blue Origin argued that NASA ignored a requirement that bidders include a flight readiness review (FRR) before the launch of each element of the lander systems. SpaceX failed to do so for each of its Starship tanker launches, but NASA did not disqualify SpaceX’s proposal.

The lack of funding has become the reason why NASA has selected one company instead of two. NASA had requested $3.2 billion for its human lunar lander program, but instead Congress only gave $850 million which is a quarter of what NASA had hoped for. With such a financial problem NASA’s ambitious plan to reach the lunar surface as early as 2024 is under threat. That is why the space agency stuck with the company that proposed the cheapest option. Blue Origin requested $5.9 billion for its Blue Moon concept.

After Blue Origin was rejected by NASA, the company showed all its “cons” in a lawsuit. Initially, the company protested through the Government Accountability Office (GAO), but the GAO ultimately denied Blue Origin’s request. The GAO argued that NASA “reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all,” according to the office’s statement on its decision.

Then later this summer Jeff Bezos made a trade offer describing it in a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. It was an offer to make a discout of 2$ billion over the next two years to bridge the “funding shortfall”. The extra money will come from the own Bezos’ wallet. However, NASA wasn’t swayed by the offer.

The decision of the Court of Federal Claims was not the decision Bezos wanted “but we respect the court’s judgment, and wish full success for NASA and SpaceX on the contract”. 

There is also a chance that NASA could award future contracts to Blue Origin and Dynetics, depending on the funding the agency receives in the future.

The Verge also notices that Administrator Nelson had requested an extra $5.4 billion for NASA’s human lunar lander program earlier this year. I think at the end of the day, after all the shouting is over, after all the pushing and tugging, a lot of which has nothing to do with NASA, you will see that NASA will have the funds that it needs,” he said, according to Space News. However, after multiple revisions to Biden’s Build Back Better Act, the latest version of the bill would only provide an extra $1.1 billion for NASA, mostly aimed at repairing and modernizing the agency’s facilities and infrastructure.

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