Blue Origin has filed a federal lawsuit against NASA, alleging that the agency neglected to properly analyze its proposal for the Human Landing System program, which SpaceX won. Blue Origin sued the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on August 13 in the Court of Federal Claims, that has authority over bid challenges following GAO evaluations. The company requested a protective order, requesting that records filed in the lawsuit be sealed. On August 16, the court granted the protective order.
The protective order was asked “to preserve private, proprietary, and the source selection information provided in the Complaint, as well as other filings and court transcripts in this bid protest,” according to the corporation. Only in the move to seal the court’s files did Blue Origin indicate expressly that the lawsuit was about NASA’s HLS “Option A” award to SpaceX in the month of April. In the motion, the business stated, “More specifically, this bid protest challenges NASA’s unconstitutional and incorrect examination of bids received under HLS Option A BAA,” or the broad agency announcement.
“Blue Origin filed suit in the United States Court of the Federal Claims in an effort to correct deficiencies in NASA’s Human Landing System’s purchase process,” the firm stated in a statement to SpaceNews. “We are convinced that the issues raised in this procurement, as well as the outcomes, must be addressed in order to restore justice, establish competition, and assure America’s safe comeback to the Moon.”
In April, Blue Origin and Dynetics submitted separate appeals with the GAO, claiming that NASA misjudged their ideas compared to SpaceX’s. NASA failed in making only one award instead of revising or canceling the competition entirely. These reasons were rejected by the GAO, which denied the protests on July 30.
In an August 10 public copy of its judgment paper, the GAO went into greater information about its rejection of the protests. It concluded that “the record fully supports NASA’s examination of the protesters’ bids and was compliant with relevant procurement law, rule, and the conditions” of the solicitation, finding no indication that NASA illegally examined the submissions.
According to the GAO, NASA was also within its rights to make only one award because the agency stated in the Option A request that it might make many awards, a single award or none at all.
Blue Origin did not back down after the update of the GAO decision. In an August 11 statement, the corporation stated, “The GAO report verifies NASA’s intention for numerous awards and indicates that there were major flaws with how NASA managed this procurement process.” “We stand by our conclusion that SpaceX was given preferential treatment because they had exclusive discussions with them.”