Jeff Bezos is presumably fuming.
His space company, Blue Origin, had initially contested NASA’s decision in April to award SpaceX with the Human Landing System contract, a multi-billion agreement to build a lander capable of bringing the first astronauts to the surface of the Moon since the Apollo missions.
In early May, NASA told SpaceX to cease all work on the contract after Blue Origin and Alabama-based space contractor Dynetics’ protests resulted in a temporary suspension, effectively putting the $2.9 billion contract on hold.
Now, the protest filed by the Jeff Bezos-led space company was denied by the GAO effectively handing the contract back into the hands of SpaceX — and SpaceX only.
Even before the GAO’s decision, Blue Origin has repeatedly tried to curry lawmakers’ favor, arguing that competition is good and that relying on SpaceX alone to land astronauts on the Moon is a bad idea.
In its latest attempt, the company published an infographic arguing that SpaceX’s Lunar Starship variant is “immensely complex and high risk” while its Blue Moon lander is “safe, low-risk” and “fast,” as first spotted on the company’s website by NASASpaceFlight‘s Adrian Beil.
“There are an unprecedented number of technologies, developments, and operations that have never been done before for Starship to land on the Moon,” the infographic reads.
In the graphic, the company argues that Starship would have to fly the Starship “more than 10 times flawlessly” to allow a single spacecraft to have enough fuel to send astronauts to the Moon.
That’s in large part due to the need of having one Starship refuel another in Earth’s orbit. Orbital refueling was always part of the plan. In fact, in October, NASA awarded SpaceX a $53 million contract for an orbital Starship refueling test.
But how Blue Origin arrived at its claims that Starship has to be refueled at least eight times in orbit to allow it to travel to Moon, as the infographic suggests, is unclear. SpaceX has yet to reveal any exact figures on how many refueling maneuvers a lunar Starship will have to make on route to the lunar surface. Futurism has reached out to SpaceX for comment.
The news comes after Bezos wrote an open letter to NASA administrator Bill Nelson, begging him to give his space company a chance by offering him $2 billion to change his mind on the contract.
In short, Blue Origin isn’t ready to accept defeat — and its repeated efforts to undermine the competition aren’t a particularly good look either.
“Here’s the deal,” Ars Technica senior space editor Eric Berger wrote in a tweet, referring to the latest infographic. “The majority of Blue Origin employees I’ve met are brilliant, nice, hard-working people who joined the company because they believe in its mission. They also respect what SpaceX is doing, and likely find this kind of thing embarrassing.”
Meanwhile, SpaceX has made significant strides in preparing for its first orbital test launch attempt. The Elon Musk-led company rolled out the first orbital class Super Heavy booster earlier this week, a gigantic rocket stage meant to deliver Starship to orbit.
Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander, in contrast, doesn’t exist yet beyond a flashy mock-up model, which was delivered to NASA for tests in August. The BE-7 rocket engine meant to power Blue Moon was put through its paces as part of a static fire test in December as well.
In all, the Bezos-led company’s repeated outcries are becoming increasingly difficult to justify. NASA had its hands tied, being allotted a tiny fraction of what it requested to develop the lunar lander. With meager funds, NASA made the decision to award the contract to the lowest bidder — which happened to be SpaceX.
Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, is still hellbent on appropriating taxpayer money to cover the costs of developing his lunar lander — and allowing SpaceX to get the first seat at the table is clearly becoming too much to bear.