Today the federal judge overseeing the Blue Origin lawsuit against NASA and SpaceX made his decision. Blue Origin, of course, lost the lawsuit, but will this be the end?
Updated with statements from Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos.
Recap of Blue Origin’s drama with Starship’s HLS selection
This almost seven-month drama started in April when NASA selected SpaceX’s Starship vehicle for the Human Landing System contract. This lucrative deal gave SpaceX nearly $3 billion to develop a lunar version of Starship for Artemis III’s crewed lunar landing. Depending on who you ask, this was either a shock that two companies weren’t selected or not surprising at all due to congress not providing enough funding.
Either way, Blue Origin and Dynetics protested the selection, with Blue Origin also going on a smear campaign against Starship. We still don’t understand why they ever thought that would work…
When the protest failed to overturn the selection, Jeff Bezos’ company then sued the agency, claiming NASA broke the law and allowed SpaceX to change their bid but not anyone else. In agreement to have speedy litigation, NASA agreed to halt collaboration with SpaceX’s Starship until November 1.
This leads to today, when Judge Richard Hertling, who has been presiding over the Blue Origin lawsuit, sided with NASA and SpaceX – denying Blue Origin’s claim of any wrongdoing by the space agency.
What happens next?
Nothing is now stoping NASA and SpaceX from continuing to push towards developing the lunar Starship. However, the lawsuit has been a pain in the side of both companies and might have possibly cost NASA their 2024 Moon landing goal (although other items could have delayed it too).
However, Blue Origin could appeal the decision, and let’s be honest, there is a good chance they do. If an appeal takes place, there is no saying how much longer this fight could be dragged out.
Either way, the stay of work is already over, so NASA and SpaceX can go back to working together without the lawsuit distraction. We should see more testing coming from SpaceX’s Starbase, and with NASA back, things could get crazy again.
Statement from Blue Origin
Our lawsuit with the Court of Federal Claims highlighted the important safety issues with the
Human Landing System procurement process that must still be addressed. Returning
astronauts safely to the Moon through NASA’s public-private partnership model requires an
unprejudiced procurement process alongside sound policy that incorporates redundant
systems and promotes competition. Blue Origin remains deeply committed to the success of
the Artemis program, and we have a broad base of activity on multiple contracts with NASA
to achieve the United States’ goal to return to the Moon to stay. We are fully engaged with
NASA to mature sustainable lander designs, conduct a wide variety of technology risk
reductions, and provide Commercial Lunar Payload Services. We are also under contract
with NASA to develop in-situ resource utilization technology, lunar space robotics, and lunar
landing sensor collaboration including testing on New Shepard. We look forward to hearing
from NASA on next steps in the HLS procurement process.
Between this and Jeff Bezos’ tweet, it sounds promising that they will not appeal the decision. It is fresh to see some class come out of the company at the end of it all. Cooperation between companies and NASA will be the only way will return to the Moon and stay there.
Let us know your thoughts on this decision below!
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