The US Court of Federal Claims has released a 47 page document detailing its decision to drop Blue Origin’s legal challenge against NASA — and it’s a scathing rebuttal, full of damning details.
In the documents, shared by New York Times space reporter Joey Roulette on Twitter today, the court expanded on its decision.
“The Court finds that Blue Origin does not have standing because it did not have a substantial chance of award but for the alleged evaluation errors,” it reads.
The court also found that Blue Origin’s proposal “was priced well above NASA’s available funding and was itself noncompliant.”
Here’s the background, by the way. NASA picked SpaceX over Blue Origin for its Human Landing Systems contract in April. Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos didn’t like that decision, and felt like his company was being unfairly excluded from the competition.
Bezos then sued NASA, arguing the agency didn’t give his company a fair chance.
Earlier this month, a Federal Claims court judge rejected Blue Origin’s argument that NASA was being unfair, giving SpaceX the green light to continue its development of a Starship variant capable of returning astronauts to the Moon.
Now, we get to hear the full story as to why the court made its decision. In the newly released document, the court argued that “NASA provided a thorough, reasoned evaluation of the proposals,” and that the agency never acted against the law.
At the time, Blue Origin argued that NASA was giving SpaceX an unfair chance by waiving safety requirements for the Elon Musk-led company’s activities.
The company also argued that SpaceX’s plan required far too many Starship launches to get astronauts to the Moon, including half a dozen fuel runs into orbit.
In a controversial graphic it published back in August, Blue Origin took a swipe at SpaceX, arguing it only needed three — not over ten launches like SpaceX — to return astronauts to the Moon.
The graphic also called out their competitor’s plan as “immensely complex and high risk” thanks to the many launches.
But the newly released filings suggest that Blue Origin was secretly proposing to get astronauts to the Moon using a much larger number of launches as well, meaning that its comms strategy was deeply hypocritical.
In other words, Blue Origin was ready to show up to the table with a backup plan that sounded a lot more like SpaceX’s, including “multiple launches” to fill “a propellant depot” in low-Earth orbit, according to the new fillings.
The judge saw through the ruse and called out Blue Origin’s backup proposal for being “purely speculative, including hypothetical pricing and hypothetical technical ratings.”
It’s a damning piece of evidence that sheds even more negative light on Blue Origin’s lawsuit against NASA.
Hopefully, NASA and SpaceX will be able to move on and leave the court case behind them — Blue Origin’s lawsuit has already delayed the space agency’s efforts to establish a launch system capable of returning the first humans to the lunar surface since the Apollo era.
More on the lawsuit: Federal Judge Shoots Down Blue Origin’s Lawsuit Against NASA