Blue Origin Sues NASA Over SpaceX Lunar Lander Contract

Blue Origin, the space company of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is suing space agency NASA over its decision to award a $2.9 billion lunar lander contract to SpaceX.

Blue Origin “challenges NASA’s illegal and inappropriate evaluation of proposals,” the company writes. The indictment was filed on Monday and remains sealed behind a protective order for the time being, write Reuters news agency and American news medium CNBC. NASA must submit a response by October 12.

Jeff Bezos’s space company charges escalate an ongoing conflict between the company and NASA, with Blue Origin protesting a contract NASA gave SpaceX to build a lunar lander. Blue Origin argues that NASA was supposed to hand out multiple contracts, and that NASA “acted incorrectly” by awarding a contract only to SpaceX. NASA only handed out a single contract for the upcoming Human Landing System program because the budget for this was lower than expected.

A few weeks ago, the US Government Accountability Office rejected an earlier protest by Blue Origin over the SpaceX lunar lander contract. That regulator argued that NASA’s decision to hand out a single contract is not illegal. Because of that protest, SpaceX was unable to begin the lunar lander project for three months while the GAO reviewed the matter. The new lawsuit may cause further delays.

Echoing the GAO’s decision, a Blue Origin spokesperson told TechCrunch that the company still believes there are “fundamental issues” with NASA’s appointment of SpaceX. Blue Origin also stated that the GAO could not address these issues because the regulator does not have the appropriate powers to rule on them.

SpaceX and NASA have yet to comment on Blue Origin’s new lawsuit. Jeff Bezos previously offered that it would reimburse NASA’s $2 billion in costs if the space agency offered a lunar lander contract to Blue Origin, The Wall Street Journal also reported late last month.

Blue Origin launched its first manned spaceflight last month