Space exploration company Blue Origin, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, filed a protest with the US Federal Government Accountability Office contesting NASA's decision to award the $2.9 billion deal to Elon Musk's SpaceX.
According to New York Times, SpaceX has been awarded the deal to design and build NASA's new generation of moon landers.
The 50-page document was filed by Blue Origin along with its other collaborators after NASA awarded the lucrative contract to SpaceX on April 17. Known as the National Team, the collaboration included other three aerospace companies — Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Corporation and Draper.
Dynetics Inc, a subsidiary of Leidos Holdings, a defence contractor for the US Armed Forces, and the third company to submit its proposal has also filed documents appealing against the deal.
NYT reported, CEO of Blue Origin, Bob Smith said that NASA's decision making process was flawed and the decision was based on misjudging the bids downplaying advantages of Blue Origin's proposal, while it also glossed over the technical challenges that SpaceX's design would face. Smith added that NASA had placed too much emphasis on bottom-line cost, something the organisation had said it wouldn't do.
"It’s really atypical for NASA to make these kinds of errors," Smith was quoted as saying. "They’re generally quite good at acquisition, especially its flagship missions like returning America to the surface of the moon. We felt that these errors needed to be addressed and remedied," he added.
Dynetics Inc, also released a statement regarding its appeal on Tuesday and said, "Has issues and concerns with several aspects of the acquisition process as well as elements of NASA’s technical evaluation and filed a protest with the G.A.O. to address them."
However, bottom line costs may have taken precedence in NASA's decision making as Congress had decided to only provide NASA with $850 million for the current fiscal year. The amount is only a quarter of what NASA had asked for the new lunar lander project, currently named Artemis.
NASA is relying on private corporations and interests in order to fuel the next phase of lunar landings. Space X recently used its Falcon 9 rockets to transport the most recent batch of astronauts to the International Space Station as well. Blue Origin has seen very limited success in comparison but its collaborators have had decades of experience in the aeronautics industry.