back to article Blue Origin sues NASA for awarding SpaceX $3bn contract to land next American boots on the Moon

Blue Origin sued NASA late on Friday, claiming the space agency unfairly awarded top rival SpaceX a $2.94bn contract to develop the next lunar lander. That lander will – fingers crossed – be part of NASA's flagship Artemis mission to put the first woman and next American man on the Moon. Three teams, including SpaceX and Blue …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Tiny violin

    Company that exists solely because owner was paying poverty wages and hired best accountants to avoid taxes is upset about being treated unfairly.

    Where is my tiny violin... oh it's on Amazon.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Tiny violin

      I have no problem with you being angry with Jeff for your perfectly valid reasons but in this case that anger is not helping. Blue Origin was not treated unfairly.

      They lost the bid by offering less, charging more, asking for money before showing achievement, trying to retain ownership of information NASA would be legally required to make public and not paying attention when NASA's very public budget was way too small for BO's proposal by itself - let alone as a second selected proposal. In hindsight NASA's evaluation of BO's management was rather generous ("Where are my engines, Jeff?"). A "Why NASA shouldn't pick BO" infographic would show that why BO only scored "Acceptable" in the technical category (same as SpaceX).

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Tiny violin

        It is funny, when you look at Blue Origin's pathetic non-info-graphic. It complains about SpaceX's use of an untested rocket, in a program to design a new fucking space vehicle.

        What about using an untested company Geoff? When you’ve achieved orbit, then come back and tell us that. Until then, kindly go fuck yourself!

        The offer of a 2bn discount is truly pathetic though. That’s not how contracts work sonny. In the grown up world, we make our bids, and then get assessed on them. We don’t then get to re-write them in press releases and have another go.

        Although I do wish Boeing had been on the list. Just so I could see NASA's assessment of their management…

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          Re: Tiny violin

          I'm just off to re-label that infographic "what sour grapes look like" and repost it on twitter...

          1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

            Re: Tiny violin

            If you are feeling cruel you can also link to this.

            1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
              Coat

              Re: Tiny violin

              Given what Bezo's rockets looks like, I'd've expected his landers to look like...well, a big bulbous head and a long stem; a bit like a tadpole, but white...

              Yup, mine's the coat with the sticky tissues in the pocket.

        2. Jon 37

          Re: Tiny violin

          Note that, even with that $2bn discount, they are still $1bn more expensive than SpaceX...

          1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

            Re: Tiny violin

            Presumably it's a loss leader for some gulf state...?!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Again?

    And when it's all said and done do you think Bezos really gives a shit about getting to the moon, or is this just another willy waving contest he just has to win? I swear that dude suffers a severe case of SMS (Short Man Syndrome).

    1. Sandstone
      Pint

      Re: Again?

      Are we somehow supposed to be concerned that some rich bastard get his ass handed to him?

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    C.o.D.

    Simply pay whoever gets there first - that's capitalism isn't it ?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: C.o.D.

      Who wins the contract to fly that money to the Moon for the winning bidder to collect?

  4. Spherical Cow

    Biting the hand that feeds you?

    When Scarlett Johansson sued Disney their response was to cut all ties with her. Nobody was surprised by that response.

    It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit affects the relationship.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Biting the hand that feeds you?

      Sadly, NASA probably aren’t allowed to do that. At least not officially. But I doubt they’ll be giving Blue Origin's management such nice ratings on the next bid process. Given that’s much more arbitrary than any purely technical measure.

      Though, if they put "worse than Boeing" on the next bid report, I’ll have some sympathy if Bezos sues…

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Biting the hand that feeds you?

        I am sure any future rating of Blue's management by NASA will be accurate and backed by evidence to prevent a successful appeal to the GAO. On the other hand, adding a few tons to the payload requirement would cause no problems for Starship but would rule out New Glenn...

      2. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Biting the hand that feeds you?

        The bid process for federal contracts is very tight and I have been involved in a few (not as prime but as supplier to a prime contractor).

        After the initial RFP (proposal), the contracting agency will then issue the RFQ (quote) to those who have made acceptable proposals. There are two volumes to the response - Technical and Management.

        The assessment is made based on those submissions and heavily documented. The bidders are not permitted to send further information unless the contracting agency asks for further information (usually in the form of 'You have made this statement. Please update your information to show why that statement is correct').

        The technical volume is just that - the technical solution. One that I was part of ran to several thousand pages of text and illustrations.

        The management volume (among many other things including financial responsibility) names the key people (and the succession plan for those positions) and has to show why this management team can achieve what the bid requires.

        Given that SpaceX has a proven track record in manned spaceflight and BO does not, it is hardly surprising that SpaceX was given an excellent rating.

        BO has already 'protested' (which is the only real route to getting a bid overturned) and the NAO has scrutinised the procedure and assessment and found the proper rules were followed and each bid was assessed against the same criteria.

        This is just Bezos throwing his toys out of the pram.

        The BO bid apparently wants the taxpayer to fund all their catch up development but then keep what was developed all for themselves. It doesn't work that way. If it is funded by a federal agency, the information is owned by that agency.

        IANAL, butI don't think BO really has a leg to stand on here.

  5. JassMan Silver badge
    Trollface

    If Blue Origin spent as much....

    on engineers as they do on lawyers maybe they would have a ship capable of getting to the moon and would have won the comtract. Instead, they have a tourist shuttle which can only get half way to the ISS, 9 months after Space X has been there done that.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: If Blue Origin spent as much....

      If the ship went up too high, then employees living in tents wouldn't be able to see it the through holes.

      Nothing commands respect more as your boss looking at you from the sky.

    2. AIBailey

      ...a tourist shuttle which can only get half way to the ISS

      Not even that.

      NS-16 reached an altitude of just over 65 miles, a quarter of the 260-ish miles needed to reach the ISS.

      Crucially, however, the maximum velocity that New Shepherd reached whilst on that jaunt was around 2200 miles per hour, far short of the ~17,000 miles per hour needed to attain orbit.

      Granted, BO are taking incremental steps towards full orbital space flight, but when you consider that back in the early 1960's NASA was flying the X-15 faster and higher than Bezos has been, and the fact that SpaceX have already demonstrated they have the speed and the altitude to do "real space" rather than just pretending, the gulf between Blue Origin and SpaceX becomes vast.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: ...a tourist shuttle which can only get half way to the ISS

        Even the Nazis in WW2 got to 60 miles up and 3,300mph in the 1940's with the V2. They were a little less precise in their landing spots though, and not re-usable.

  6. HildyJ Silver badge
    WTF?

    Amazon pricing

    As everyone knows, Amazon prices are dynamic. The price you see may not match your neighbor's price because of Amazon's algorithms.

    Bozos must have read the news reports of NASA selecting multiple contractors rather than the RFP which specified they could select zero, one, or multiple bidders.

    Looking at the bids in the GAO report, he apparently bid just low enough to come in second - at TWICE the bid of SpaceX.

    He also didn't see that the award was subject to budgetary constraints, something he never has to deal with.

    I can't imagine that the court will uphold the protest. Now if he can get his lobbyists to increase the NASA budget, then I'm all for that.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Amazon pricing

      "Now if he can get his lobbyists to increase the NASA budget, then I'm all for that."

      Not if the only thing they can do with that money is give it to Jeff.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Sealed?

    WTF? It's about taxpayer dollars, how can it not be public interest?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Unproven?

    A bit rich for Blue Origin to be banging on about unproven systems. At least SpaceX have proven that they can launch to orbit, dock, de-orbit & land (at least on Earth) and have working prototypes of their next generation systems.

    All BO have proven so far is that they can launch Bezos, his brother and a couple of others on a sub orbital jaunt.

    I would know who I would put my money on.

  9. vichardy

    How can he be that stupid?

    He must be getting bad advice. You would think that after the ill-advised protest (which he lost) he would just drop it and work to better. Poking your customer in the eye is really dumb.

  10. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    What was that quote about sitting on top of a Saturn V?

    thinking... every part on this rocket was built by the cheapest bidder?

  11. FozzyBear

    "outcomes must be addressed to restore fairness, create competition"

    Restore fairness : Well in fairness Jeff baby, your solution hasn't even made it to the ISS. Is everyone suppose to wait while you try to catch up?

    Create competition: Jeff, do you need a dictionary? Look it up, you were "Competing" against Space X and lost. Your solution was in all aspects inferior. You were delivering less and charging more. In essence you are not "value for money".

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      "Restore fairness"

      "Create competition"

      Because of course that's exactly how Jeff does business; behaves fairly and encourages competition.

      I mean just look at how well he treats his lucky employees abd never undercuts the sellers who have been crucial in the building of his platform.

      If bozos has his way there will be Chinese, Hindi and Russian speaking bases on Mars before NASA gets to the moon, but he will have won in court.

  12. AIBailey
    Facepalm

    Hmm.

    SpaceX : Regular launches, placing satellites into LEO, launched an object into heliocentric orbit, ferrying astronauts to the ISS, safe return to earth of said astronauts.

    Blue Origin : Single launch on ballistic trajectory, just cleared the Karman Line, total flight time of just over 10 minutes, of which I guess 1 minute of that was technically "in space".

    Whilst neither company have experience of lunar missions, one has a proven record of putting "things" into space (both human and mechanical), the other is just a jumped up fairground ride.

    It's no surprise where NASA felt more comfortable putting their money, regardless of the differing bid prices.

    Sadly, it's also no surprise that the loser reaches first for their cheque book, then when that's rebuffed, they reach for their lawyers.

  13. smudge
    Holmes

    Standard practice?

    Isn't it standard practice - or as near as dammit - for the loser in a large US government procurement to sue?

    I have worked in IT with a very large US company who were intending to do just that, but then unexpectedly won the bid :)

  14. spireite Silver badge

    It is truly astonishing that Bezos feels he's been shortchanged, but let us look at the facts......

    BO (so appropriate) offering was twice the price.

    He would have an argument if he was as far along (or as close as) SpaceX on the deployment and usage with what is an astonishing launch capability in commercial programmes....... but he isn't.... so what justifies being twice the price? Is he expecting Nasa to foot his development bill to catch up with SpaceX?

    BO has done the equivalent of throwing up a little helicopter on a rubber band, when compared to SpaceX.

    When you look at the bus schedule and metronomic frequency that Elons Tribe has achieved, with reuse far in excess of expectations, the Nasa decision has to be one of/the biggest no-brainer decisions ever in the history of flight.

    BO and the rest are probably 5 years behind SpaceX.

    When I heard of the BO launch to Karman+, I wasn't filled with excitement - same with SRBs, though I felt SRB was more interesting because of the launch technique.

    When I see a SpaceX schedule, I have to watch the launch (live or delayed), because it's a bloody miracle what he's achieved. You never get tired of watching the boosters return, standing up, on a rocking platform , in the middle of the Atlantic/wherever.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      As a kid I had a helicopter (and a number of planes) powered by rubber bands.

      They were awesome. If I remember correctly the helicopter was about 9" long and had this complex handle to launch it.

      You wound up this huge rubber band in the handle and locked it. Sat the helicopter on top then pressed a button. The rubber band unwound into the rotors providing a surprising amount of lift. There may have been some weights on the tips or something.

      Another one was a Vulcan bomber about a foot long that when launched with the catapult at 45 degrees when for miles, in all sorts or random directions.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      spireite,

      I've read a few people talking about everyone being 5 years behind SpaceX. And I just don't believe it. I think it's a lot worse than that.

      People talk about SpaceX missing their deadlines. And they do. Often because it's obvious at the time Musk sets them publicly, that he's being way too optimistic. But on the other hand, it's also getting hard to doubt they'll get there eventually, given how often that happens too.

      But who are his competition? Boeing, United Launch Alliance, Roscosmos, Blue Origin, the ESA and China's space agency. There's quite a few contractors there, who're used to getting fat on government pork, and moving at whatever damned pace they chose because what's the alternative? The Europeans and ULA are talking about re-usability. But does anyone seriously believe they'll even have it operational in 5 years? Let alone working regularly. And it's going to be on newly designed kit - which they've got to get working first.

      One of the genius things SpaceX did, was to design the possibility of re-usablitity into their new rocket, and then ignore it. Get the Falcon 9 making money first and regularly working. Then start attempting to land them. A few explosions later, they started succeeding, and then started to re-use them. But it wasn't until a couple or redesigns of Falcon 9 later that they got to being able to re-use them 10 times each. I don't see anyone doing that much faster than SpaceX - and I'm not sure how many of the old dinosaurs are flexible enough to be able to work that way. By iteration and experimentation, even with operation gear.

      I thought Blue Origin might, but I wonder now. He's not taken this loss well. How would he take unexpected explosions on TV? Musk is quite cheerful about making public failures - and openly says that's the way they're trying to run. To learn by deliberately courting failure in safe situations. That sort of thing is even harder for the nationalised space agencies. The public don't like watching their taxpayer cash exploding in front of them. And for the Chinese and Russians in particular it's also about prestige.

      Plus catching up with SpaceX probably requires them to slow down first. Which I'm sure they will at some point. But they're currently in an amazingly creative run of form, and who knows what they'll be doing in 10 years time.

      1. Mishak Silver badge

        "he's being way too optimistic"

        Elon had also admitted in public that he's often far too optimistic, but says people are motivated by working to tough time scales, provided they are supported when they are missed (i.e. "good try, it was my fault we weren't ready" rather than "you're fired for not getting it done").

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: "he's being way too optimistic"

          I didn't realise he'd said that. But it's clear from the way he works. For example I can remember them talking about testing Falcon Heavy a few years back, and having Starship ready by 2020. But then quite quickly cutting funding to both, while they sorted out the problems with landing/re-using Falcon 9. I guess they didn't have the resources to pursue all three at once.

          And even though Starship is clearly his big dream, it was also interesting that it was Falcon Heavy that happened next. Presumably on the grounds that it was easier, and would happen quicker.

          It seems to me that with SpaceX he's got the right balance of long-term thinking, which the ability to switch tactics and also grab short-term opportunities. I'm not sure Tesla functions this well, so I don't know if it's down to Musk, or the people he's got at the top in SpaceX being better - or him devoting more effort to SpaceX. Or it could just be that Space is an area that suits his talents better.

          The problem with mass manufacture is that it's not about innovating fast, it's about slow and steady cahnges across a horribly complex supply chain. And ramping up production requires you to be quite consistent and also to cooperate with your own suppliers, to allow them the time to evolve their prouction to meet your needs. Although rockets also have complex supply chains, everything is still close enough to being a prototype, that your problems are much more about quality and cost of work - not the logistical ones of getting hundreds of thousands of parts delivered to a factory by specific times of day in order to not suffer production line delays.

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      To catch up with SpaceX ...

      ... you need a revenue stream. SpaceX used good margins because their competition was old space. Going forward they have Starlink, Space Force, NASA and most commercial launches that are US friendly. That leaves: Space Force and NASA second source for assured access to space. Kuiper (because Jeff will not buy launches from Elon). China, Europe?, India? and others that want or need access to space independent of the USA. Behind the cushions on Jeff's sofa. Also (scraping the bottom of the barrel) OneWeb (signed a deal with Boeing who will not buy launches from Elon).

      Rocket Lab have a real chance. Jeff is currently flushing Blue's chance down the toilet which leaves a niche for a third US launch provider likely Vox Space (=Virgin Orbit) or Astra. ULA are hamstrung by the "Do not compete with SLS or spend any more than the minimum on R&D" requirements of its parents. China is investing real money at competing with SpaceX but will not get there in 5 years. The other revenue streams barely have their mouths moving let alone their money.

  15. Mishak Silver badge

    Working relationship

    Assuming BO win, I'm not sure how I would feel having to work on a human-rated project with a supplier who was forced on me by the courts.

  16. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

    Private Eye

    In the words of Private Eye, I hope they both lose.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Private Eye

      What have NASA done wrong, to deserve you wanting them to lose? All they did was give a contract to the best party to get something done? They've done nothing wrong here? They might have offered money to Blue Origin for a study project, or given them a chance of full participation, if Blue Origin hadn't been eye-wateringly expensive and behind SpaceX in terms of technology. And, at this point, all BO have is a sub-orbital rocket. Although admittedly a re-usable one. But I don't think it even uses the same engines as their orbit-capable one.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope Elon Musk appreciates one of Spacex's biggest assets right now.

    Gwynne Shotwell, it's about time she got some headline credit for this win.

    The work she must have done putting together Spacex's tender and subsequently winning this contract.

    (It's pretty clear too, she has a good working relationship with the head of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Kathy Lueders).

    1. genghis_uk

      Re: I hope Elon Musk appreciates one of Spacex's biggest assets right now.

      Big upvote for this.

      Musk gets (takes) all of the credit for SpaceX but it is Gwynne who really makes it all happen!

      1. spireite Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: I hope Elon Musk appreciates one of Spacex's biggest assets right now.

        So you could say she was the Death Knell for Jeffs ambitions

    2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: I hope Elon Musk appreciates one of Spacex's biggest assets right now.

      (It's pretty clear too, she has a good working relationship with the head of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Kathy Lueders).

      Not to mention NASA's JPL. But this would be the same Shotwell who's made a variety of interesting claims about using Starship as an intercontinental ballistic people mover. Which will have fast turnaround Starships merrily ferrying souls from say, LAX to Australia for less than the price of a traditional air fare.

      Never mind the physics, focus on the unrealistic business development claims.

      But this is how the reality dysfunction around all things Musk seems to work. Hypeloop is simple. It's like playing air hockey in a vacuum. Then delivers Teslas in a drain pipe for Las Vegas 3 people at a time mass transport system.

      So sure, Musk has made a bunch of grand claims. So sure, he's got his Falcons already paid for by NASA and the USAF. So sure, if the US taxpayer bungs SpaceX a few billion more, he'll get his <10km Starship into orbit, and beyond. All it'll take is the cost of 1 year of the Bbc to fill some sheet steel with the gubbins to send someone other than Elon to the Moon.

      Or as Bezos has probably pointed out, Musk's claims (and costings, and timescales) rarely hold true, so spreading the money around might actually be a good idea.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        While your here...

        If I thought there was any danger of Blue providing similar services to SpaceX at a remotely competitive price I would be begging US tax payers to look deep into their wallets for some investment money because it paid off so well last time.

        Please check it out: add up every cent SpaceX got from the US government then for each US government payload SpaceX launched subtract what the cheapest competitor would have charged. US tax payers have been saved hundreds of millions by their investment in SpaceX.

        If you want another joke, try NASA payments for the Artemis Human Landing Systems. Blue got more money to research their proposal than SpaceX did - including the first $300M SpaceX recently got for their progress while the GAO was investigating Blue's complaints.

        I could mention that the air fare you are misquoting actually involved "comparable to business class" or that as you are a genius physicist who can see how easy it is to implement hyperloop - but haven't because you are too busy. Instead I will just respond to the time scales thing with: "Where are my engine, Jeff?"

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: While your here...

          Please check it out: add up every cent SpaceX got from the US government then for each US government payload SpaceX launched subtract what the cheapest competitor would have charged. US tax payers have been saved hundreds of millions by their investment in SpaceX.

          Err.. right. Throwing billions of public money at SpaceX pre-IPO obviously 'saves hundreds of millions'. Perhaps true for Musk and SpaceX, blatantly untrue for taxpayers. But this is also the 'competition' argument. By eliminating competition by undercutting bids, one can 'win' market share.

          But I'm sure SpaceX will launch it's BFR on time, and on budget because NASA's awarded a fixed cost contract with penalties..

          I could mention that the air fare you are misquoting actually involved "comparable to business class" or that as you are a genius physicist who can see how easy it is to implement hyperloop

          I'm not the genius physicist who described the Hypeloop as being "Like a tube with an air hockey table", and "It's really not that hard". I'm just an engineer, who couldn't quite understand how that was meant to work in a near-vacuum tube. Or how CGI showing impellors on Hypeloop trains was meant to work in a near-vacuum. Or even how Musk planned to create and maintain a near-vacuum in a tube between LA and SF.

          But it's really not that hard. The Vegas Hypeloop is the future of high speed transport after all.. Or perhaps that's the supersonic, VTOL electric jet Elon announced years ago. That's just one of those energy density problems I'm sure the genius physicist Musk will overcome soon. Or perhaps he meant he'll launch the 'jet' using his current fossil fuels, and switch to ion drives once in space.

          But such is marketing. Keep throwing subsidies at Elon's ventures, and it'll be 100x cheaper than everyone else! Soon! If the market doesn't catch up, realise that Tesla's a hype machine propped up by subsidies, the share price collapses and all the ventures underwritten by Tesla's inflated stock price crash and burn.

          Thunderf00t fisks a lot of the hype in videos like this-

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TxkE_oYrjU

          One doesn't have to be a genius physicist to realise that a lot of Musk's ideas are neither original, nor practical.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: While your here...

            Yeah, who needs SpaceX anyway!

            Boeing can handle all those launches to the ISS.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: While your here...

              Yeah, who needs SpaceX anyway!

              NASA I guess, based on the US taxpayer bailing out Musk.

              Boeing can handle all those launches to the ISS.

              If not, ULA can. After all, their Atlas and Delta vehicles have already sent stuff to the Moon, Mars, and places SpaceX cannot reach. I'm no fan of Bezos's business practices, but people who're happily kissing Musk's ring don't seem to realise Bezos said Blue Origin would partner with ULA, not compete with them for orbital launches.

              So the fair comparison is really ULA vs SpaceX, and ULA's had more success. Falcon Heavy will chug along, and fanboys may at some point notice that to get a decent payload into orbit (or beyond), the Falcon is expendable.. Which was always an issue with the whole re-usability thing.

              But coming soon.. ish, will be the mighty BFR! Bigger, louder and faster than any previous rocket! Well, ok, so with it's 32x Raptor engines, it's plumbing and controls will be FUN, but it's utilising similar technology to Tesla's 'Full Self-Driving'. So it'll be fine. But the BFR isn't exactly original, after all one of the earliest launches to orbit was by Wan Hu, who used 47 rocket motors in his launch vehicle.

              Meanwhile, other space companies seem to be opting for.. less complex designs. Y'know, 4-5 engines +/- some strap-on boosters. But I guess if you don't have the thrust of an RD-170, you need to use a lot of engines. And being full-flow, 32x mutiple turbopumps, valves, gimbals etc will be fine. Absolutely fine for SpaceX's claims of using Starships as sub-orbital dropships, or passenger flights.

              Airlines seem to understand that trying to keep aircraft simple helps reduce delays from maintenance and turnarounds.. SpaceX doesn't seem to have found that clue, but then again, Starship and the BFR have many clues to find still.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: While your here...

                Are any of the launch systems you mention man rated? At the moment NASA are stuck with a choice between Dragon and Russia to get crew to the ISS due to Boeings ineptitude.

                NASA gives money to lots of companies. This isn't "bailing a company out". The simple fact is SpaceX has shown that it can produce working systems in a sensible timeframe for a sensible budget. Private companies as well as NASA are throwing money at them to launch stuff. Their next gen systems are being developed with their own money.

                Sales pitches.

                SpaceX.

                We have a working orbital man rated launcher that can land. Some have done 10 flights. We have put loads of satellites into orbit and taken crew to the ISS (and safely back again!). Oh, we also launched a sports car on an orbit out beyond Mars for shits and giggles. We have working prototypes of our next launch system that we developed privately, part of which we want to use to fulfil your Lunar requirement. This new system just also happens to be the largest launcher ever built with twice the thrust of a Saturn 5. The system is currently being stacked ready for its test launch, we just need to complete the paper work.

                (Electric) Blue Origin.

                Me and my bro went just above the Karman line for about a minute. If you give us a shedload of cash I am sure we can knock something together. We only want twice as much from you as SpaceX do.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: While your here...

                SpaceX developed the Falcon 1 with their own cash. They were one failed launch away from going bust. When that was successful and NASA saw that they possibly had "the right stuff", they gave them a contract under the COTS program and fed them development cash. Figures I have seen show that NASA gave them less than $400m dollars. This was just under half the development costs, SpaceX pitched in the other >50%. NASA have admitted that if they had done things "the old way", they would probably have ended up paying close to $4 billion in development costs.

                So a working system, that has been shown to be able to be developed (able to land, upgrade to man rated) at a tenth of the cost of giving money to people like ULA.

                When they did give similar contracts to SpaceX and one of the old guard, you get a Boeing fiasco and Crew Dragon successfully flying multiple manned missions to the ISS before Starliner has completed a successful unmanned test flight. This after Boeing were given substantially more ($92.3m) to develop Starliner than SpaceX got for Crew Dragon ($75m) under the CCDev2 development round. In the next round (CCiCap), Boeing were again given more money, $460m. SpaceX got $440m.

                When the final decisions were made to give the contracts to Boeing and SpaceX (CCtCap), Boeing were given $4.2billion and SpaceX $2.6billion. It seems at the time Boeing were given the lions share as they were thought of as the "safe pair of hands", with SpaceX as the backstop.

                NASA's Office of Inspector General estimates of seat costs are much less for Crew Dragon as well. $55m vs $90m for Starliner.

                NASA can now see where they get value for money, hence going with SpaceX for the Lunar lander.

  18. hoola Silver badge

    Standard Practice Now

    This is just the same as the JEDI contract and will be repeated for every large contract where taxpayer money is footing the bill.

    These private corporations now bidding to provide the services have so much money that they will do anything to attempt litigate competitors out of business. The public bodies that tender for the services will still end up paying as everyone will start adding a fat margin to cover the inevitable "it's not fair" sueballs that will be flung around.

    So in the end, win-win all around except for the tax payer, as usual.

  19. Irongut

    I saw that infographic last week, of all the FUD on it (and it is entirely FUD) the best part is about "a launch vehicle that has never flown and is still being designed." Starship has actually flown, not to orbit but then nothing BO has ever flown has gone to orbit. SpaceX have flown many cargo and person missions to the ISS and put hundreds (thousands?) of satellites in orbit, meanwhile BO has flown their boss into space for 10 minutes. They have never even achieved orbit. And, while SpaceX churn out prototype after prototype Starship in Texas, BO can't manage to build an engine for ULA and their HLS entry is pure PowerPoint.

    I hope this suit costs Bezos a very large sum of money. He is bound to lose.

    Something smells, I think it's Jeff's BO.

  20. Ashto5

    Nothing like a muppet scorned

    Tesla roadster car currently going further than anything BO has launched and that was years ago

    Let’s be honest Bezo you didn’t hire the best and SpaceX did

    Now go back to shipping boxes like a good little shop owner

  21. TVU

    "Blue Origin sues NASA for awarding SpaceX $3bn contract"

    I see that Bezos is unfortunately following the Oracle Larry way of doing things - petulantly sue because you can't get your own way. I hope that some wise judge throws this lawsuit out at the first opportunity because Blue Origin hasn't even been able to achieve Earth orbit.

  22. imanidiot Silver badge

    There will be no winners

    Except the lawyers. Who will probably be buying another yacht.

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