NASA in April awarded the $2.9 billion contract for a lunar lander to the more established SpaceX, which also offered a lower price than the bids from Blue Origin and Dynetics Inc., a subsidiary of Leidos. The two losing companies appealed the contract to the Government Accountability Office because multiple agreements should have been. The proposals weren’t evaluated correctly, but the agency rejected their request.
The decision will allow “NASA and SpaceX to establish a timeline for the first crewed landing on the moon in more than 50 years,” NASA said in a statement Friday, calling a moon landing a priority of the Biden administration.
Friday’s ruling found that even though NASA initially said it would give multiple contracts, it didn’t have enough money and that awarding only one contract was legal. Plus, it found NASA’s evaluation of all three bids “was reasonable, and consistent with applicable procurement law regulation and the announcement terms,” according to a statement by GAO lawyer Kenneth Patton.
SpaceX’s bid had the highest rating while the other recommendations “were significantly higher in price,” with the space agency deciding it couldn’t afford to give out multiple contracts as initially planned, the GAO announcement said.
Blue Origin, which has been trying to get Congress to require a second lander contract, still hopes NASA will change its mind and provide “simultaneous competition,” said company spokesperson Linda Mills.