Jeff Bezos (left) and Elon Musk
Getty Images; Reuters
A U.S. federal court ruled against Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin in a company’s lawsuit against NASA over a lucrative astronaut moon landing contract awarded by SpaceX Elon Musk earlier this year.
Federal Judge Richard Hertling sided with the defense in his decision, ending months of battle after Blue Origin sued NASA in August.
A Blue Origin spokesman said in a statement to CNBC that the company’s lawsuit “has highlighted important security concerns in the Human Landing System procurement process that have yet to be resolved.”
“Safely returning astronauts to the moon through NASA’s public-private partnership model requires an unbiased procurement process along with sound policies that include redundant systems and promote competition. Blue Origin remains deeply committed to the success of the Artemis program, ”the company said.
NASA and SpaceX did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling.
Musk tweeted a photo from the 1995 film Judge Dredd in response to CNBC’s message about the ruling.
In April, NASA awarded SpaceX the only contract for the Human Landing System program on a competitive basis. Under SpaceX’s $ 2.9 billion contract, the company will use its Starship rocket to deliver astronauts to the lunar surface for NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions.
A variant of the SpaceX Starship rocket for the NASA HLS program.
SpaceX competed with Blue Origin and Dynetics for what was expected to be two contracts, before NASA awarded only one contract due to a smaller-than-expected appropriation for the program from Congress.
Blue Origin quickly challenged the decision to the US Government Audit Office, but in late July the GAO rejected the company’s appeal, forcing Bezos’ space company to tighten the lawsuit.
An edited version of Blue Origin’s lawsuit revealed that the company’s complaint focused on proving that NASA had mistakenly awarded the contract to SpaceX alone and in doing so “ignored key safety requirements.”
Hertling’s ruling rejected Blue Origin’s claims. The court’s opinion is currently sealed as the case contains information proprietary to the companies, but Hertling ordered the parties to submit the proposed corrections by November 18 in order to publicly release the opinion.
NASA’s work with SpaceX on the HLS contract was halted during the trial, but is scheduled to resume on Monday.