Story at a glance

  • Blue Origin sued NASA over how it awarded its Human Landing System (HLS) contract to SpaceX.
  • HLS is part of NASA’s Artemis program that aims to send astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024.
  • NASA was ordered to stop working on the HLS as the legal battle played out.

After a months-long legal battle between Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin and NASA, a federal judge has dismissed the lawsuit which now allows NASA to continue working on it’s mission to the moon.

Federal judge Richard Hertling on Thursday dismissed Blue Origin’s lawsuit against NASA, which was protesting NASA’s decision to award Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX with a lucrative contract to aid NASA in sending astronauts to the moon.

The contract, called the Human Landing System (HLS), was worth $2.9 billion. It’s part of NASA’s Artemis program, which sets out to build and develop a lunar lander capable of sending astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024.

Blue Origin’s disagreement with NASA started when the agency was soliciting proposals for its HLS contract. Blue Origin, along with space companies SpaceX and Dynetics, all submitted proposals to NASA, but in April the agency ultimately chose SpaceX as the sole contract winner. Blue Origin took issue with NASA’s decision and at first filed a formal protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO). 


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Blue Origin claimed NASA should have picked more than one company for its HLS contract and that it unreasonably evaluated proposals. However, by the end of July, the GAO denied Blue Origin’s protest, citing that NASA didn’t commit any violations in only awarding its HLS contract to one company.

Blue Origin promptly filed a lawsuit suing NASA over it’s HLS contract decision. But today a federal judge ruled in favor of NASA, dismissing the suit. 

According to Space News, Blue Origin responded to the court decision in part by saying, “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.”

While Blue Origin’s lawsuit was worked through, NASA’s work on the HLS contract was halted, slowing down an aggressive timeline to send astronauts to the moon by 2024. With today’s decision to dismiss the suit, NASA will be able to resume its work.


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Published on Nov 04, 2021