The U.S. Federal Court ruled Thursday against Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in the company’s lawsuit against NASA over a lucrative lunar landing contract for astronauts awarded to SpaceX by Elon Musk earlier this year.
Federal Judge Richard Hertling sided with the defense in his ruling, ending a month-long battle after Blue Origin sued NASA in August.
NASA said in a statement that cooperation with SpaceX will resume “as soon as possible” after the ruling is passed.
“It will be obvious in the near future for companies to work with NASA to build a long-term human presence on the moon through the agency’s Artemis program,” the agency added.
Jeff Bezos, left, and Elon Musk
Getty Images; Reuters
A spokesperson for Blue Origin said in a statement to CNBC that the company’s lawsuit “highlighted the important security issues in the Human Landing System procurement process that remain to be addressed.”
“The safe return of astronauts to the moon through NASA’s public-private partnership model requires an unbiased procurement process alongside solid policies that incorporate redundant systems and encourage competition. Blue Origin remains committed to the success of the Artemis program, ”the company said.
Bezos personally added in a tweet that the verdict “wasn’t the decision we wanted,” but noted that “we respect the court’s verdict” – meaning his company will no longer contest the decision.
SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment on the ruling.
Musk posted a photo from the 2012 movie “Dredd” in a tweet in response to CNBC’s report of the verdict.
In April, NASA awarded SpaceX the sole contract for the agency’s Human Landing System program as part of a competitive process. The $ 2.9 billion SpaceX contract provides for the company to use its Starship rocket to take astronauts to the surface of the moon for NASA’s upcoming Artemis missions.
A variation on SpaceX’s Starship rocket for NASA’s HLS program.
SpaceX was likely to compete with Blue Origin and Dynetics for two contracts before NASA awarded a single contract due to a lower allocation to the program from Congress.
Blue Origin quickly protested the decision to the US Government Accountability Office, but GAO dismissed the company’s appeal in late July – causing Bezos’ space company to escalate its legal action. Bezos is also the founder of e-commerce giant Amazon.
An edited version of Blue Origin’s lawsuit revealed that the company’s complaint was focused on proving that NASA wrongly awarded the contract only to SpaceX, “disregarding critical flight safety requirements.”
Hertling’s ruling dismissed Blue Origin’s claims. The court’s verdict is currently sealed as the case contains proprietary information, but Hertling asked the parties to submit the proposed edits by November 18 in order to publicly release the opinion.
NASA’s work with SpaceX on the HLS contract was halted during the litigation, but is set to resume on Monday.