The GAO also said that NASA had fairly evaluated the three proposals, and while it agreed that NASA had inappropriately waived a request to SpaceX, the mistake was not serious enough to re-enact the competition.
“Despite this finding, the decision also concluded that opponents were unable to establish any reasonable possibility of competitive prejudice arising from this limited difference in assessment,” GAO said. said in a statement.
The prize for SpaceX is only for the first landing on the moon, scheduled for 2024, though few expect it to happen anytime soon. “Importantly, the GAO’s decision will allow NASA and SpaceX to establish a timeline for the first crewed moon landing in more than 50 years,” NASA said in a statement.
NASA officials say they will have another moon landing competition open to Blue Origin, Dynetics and any other companies.
In his letter, Mr. Bezos said NASA should choose now to ensure competition. “Competition will prevent any source of insurmountable leverage over NASA,” he wrote.
Following the decision, Blue Origin said in a statement: “We are confident that there are fundamental issues with NASA’s decision, but that the GAO was unable to resolve them due to its limited authority. We will continue to advocate for the two vendors immediately as we believe it is the right solution. “
In an effort to push NASA to reopen the contest, the chair of the Commerce Committee, Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, where Blue Origin is headquartered, added a bipartisan requirement The agency must choose a second contractor for a vast study and technology bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate in June. Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, opposed the measure, claiming it was tantamount to a “bailout” for Mr. Bezos’ company. But powerful senators on the Commerce Committee backed it, arguing that NASA had always intended to award two awards.