Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has refused to accept a NASA decision to allow Tesla boss Elon Musk's SpaceX company to build the spacecraft set to put American astronauts on the Moon in 2024
A rivalry between billionaire space entrepreneurs Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos has spilled over into the courtroom.
The Amazon boss’s Blue Origin company has launched a federal lawsuit challenging NASA’s decision to award the sole contract for it’s next-generation Moon lander to Musk’s SpaceX venture.
NASA originally said there would be at least two separate contracts to develop a lunar lander for its Project Artemis missions, set to put humans back on the Moon in three years’ time.
But in April, the space agency announced a change of plan and awarded a single $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX.
That was a major disappointment to Bezos and his Blue Origin team, and they almost immediately mounted a legal challenge to force NASA to overturn the decision.
The first stop was at the US government’s accountability office, but that was met with no success.
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Responding to the failure of Blue Origin’s initial challenge, Musk tweeted: "Can’t get it up (to orbit) lol."
Now, in sealed documents, Blue Origin is attempting to "remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA's Human Landing System".
Blue Origin has publicly described SpaceX's giant "Starship" launch vehicle as "immensely complex and high risk".
But escalating the messy war of words, Musk once more mocked Bezos on Twitter, saying: "If lobbying & lawyers could get u to orbit, Bezos would be on Pluto [right now].
A judge has said that the exact content of Blue Origin's complaint will be kept secret, agreeing with the company's claim that releasing the details could cause "proprietary information, trade secrets, and confidential financial information" to be released, potentially harming the company’s financial future.
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However, Blue Origin said in a statement: "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’s original $5.9 billion bid called for a "National Team" to get Americans back on the Moon, including aerospace industry giants such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin.
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