The U.S. Government Accountability Office upheld NASA’s decision to make Elon Musk’s SpaceX the sole winner of a contract to develop the next lunar lander, despite protests from Jeff Bezos, who has argued that it is unfair to grant a single company the award.
Back in April, NASA opted to award its $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX, rejecting a bid from Bezos’ Blue Origin, which partnered with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper. The space agency initially intended to have at least two private-sector companies compete to build a spacecraft for the first moon landing since 1972 — an initiative dubbed the Human Landing System or HLS.
Citing budgeting shortfalls however, NASA ultimately gave the job to just one company. It had received only $850 million of the $3.3 billion it had requested from Congress to build the Moon lander.
In response, the Amazon founder filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office, which has since been dismissed.
“NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award ... the evaluation of all three proposals was reasonable, and consistent with applicable procurement law, regulation, and the announcement’s terms,” GAO managing associate general counsel Kenneth Patton wrote in a statement to CNBC.
The decision will allow for the space agency “to establish a timeline for the first crewed landing on the Moon in more than 50 years,” NASA said in a statement.
On Monday, the world’s richest man personally appealed to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson regarding the contract, offering to waive up to $2 billion in payments over roughly the next two years.
Nelson declined to comment on the note during a briefing earlier this week.
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