Why Is Jeff Bezos Suing NASA? Lawsuit Over Lunar Lander Contract

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Aug. 17 2021, Published 12:36 p.m. ET

Less than a month after launching his first astronaut flight into suborbital space, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is ready to pick a bone with NASA. In fact, he's suing NASA after Blue Origin lost the lunar lander contract to Elon Musk's SpaceX.

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Bezos is calling bull on NASA's processes, but why? Here are the details on Blue Origin's lawsuit against NASA. What will come of the suit, if anything at all?

NASA awards lunar lander contract to SpaceX

In April, NASA awarded the lunar lander contract to SpaceX, which is a Musk-owned space exploration company. The contract is worth $2.9 billion and involves two moon landings. One of the landings will take place without humans, while the other one will involve manned spacecraft.

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The contract is well underway with SpaceX already receiving $439 million to launch the project. Blue Origin wasn't happy when NASA first awarded the contract elsewhere, but it didn't make any official moves until now.

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin fights back

Bezos decided to sue NASA over the $2.9 billion contract. He is doing so through his company Blue Origin and filed the suit through the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

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NASA hasn't landed astronauts on the moon since 1972 when Apollo 17 took Ronald Evans, Robert Parker, and others to the lunar landscape.

While one could argue that the lawsuit stems from Bezos's desire to score nearly $3 billion and a major multi-launch project for his company, he claims different reasoning for his lawsuit.

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Bezos has an issue with NASA's competitive contract processes

What is it about the NASA contract that grinds Bezos's gears? Specifically, he's looking at the reportedly unfair process in which NASA determines who wins the contract.

Due to these supposed anti-competitive processes, Blue Origin states that it wants to "restore fairness, create competition, and ensure a safe return to the Moon for America." Instead, Blue Origin wants a dual-company contract that allows it to slide into the deal. The Government Accountability Office already denied this proposal in July, but Blue Origin is moving forward in the judiciary system nonetheless.

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NASA has until Oct. 12 to respond to the Blue Origin lawsuit

Based on the lawsuit, NASA has until Oct. 12 to file an official response. NASA officials told reporters that they're looking for a solution right now because a quick and safe moon landing is a top priority.

According to these statements, NASA doesn't seem to entirely oppose the idea of a multi-company contract. Instead, the organization seems to want what's best for the future of space exploration.

Is this anti-competition or is it a case of billionaires playing pick-me?

While Bezos calls out what he views as anti-competition in the NASA contract sphere, others aren't so sure. It's possible that the Blue Origin team just wants a slice of the $2.9 billion pie that Musk is currently cashing in on. However, it's also possible that Bezos thinks his company can get the job done.

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