US watchdog upholds SpaceX's Moon lander contract

In April, Elon Musk's company was awarded the contract for the human landing system (HLS), which was worth $2.9 billion. However, the other bidders challenged the award, arguing that NASA had to make multiple awards and that the evaluation process was unfair.NASA didn't violate regulations when it awarded SpaceX the sole contract for building a Moon lander. This was according to a Friday ruling by a watchdog that also denied challenges from Blue Origin and Dynetics.In April, Elon Musk's company received the $2.9 billion contract for the human landing system (HLS). However, other bidders protested, arguing that NASA had to award multiple awards and that the evaluation process was unfair.According to the Government Accountability Office, NASA's initial announcement was "reserved" and NASA could make multiple awards or one award. The space agency also stated that it had acted according to the amount of funding it had received.This is particularly disappointing for Blue Origin, which was regarded as the second strongest bid.Blue Origin's owner Jeff Bezos wrote an open letter to NASA this week offering a discount of at least $2Billion to help them reconsider their decision.Blue Origin stated Friday that it believes the GAO was unable to address fundamental issues with the original decision due to its limited jurisdiction.A spokesperson said that they will continue to advocate for the two immediate providers because it is the best solution."The Human Landing System program must be competitive now, not later. It's the best option for NASA and for our country.SpaceX's winning bid includes a lunar version its Starship spacecraft prototype, which can carry large crews and cargo to deep space missions. It also has the ability to land upright on Earth and other celestial bodies.Blue Origin, which lost the award, has lobbied hard to get the decision reversed. The US Senate passed a bill that would add $10 billion to the program's funding.The legislation is currently being discussed in the House of Representatives and has been called a "Bezos Bailout".SpaceX's winning bid includes a lunar version its Starship spacecraft prototype. This craft is being designed to transport large crews and cargo on deep space missions and will land upright on Earth and other celestial bodies.NASA's Artemis program aims to send humans back to the Moon by the middle of the decade. It also plans to build a lunar orbital station before sending a crewed mission to Mars in 2030.Musk's 2002-founded company is NASA's most prominent private sector partner.It started operating Crew Dragon capsules last year to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, while Boeing has yet to conduct a successful uncrewed test flight.SpaceX won the contract last week to launch a NASA mission to Jupiter's Europa, an icy moon. There, a probe will search for signs of life.Learn more Bezos offers NASA $2 billion off Blue Origin Moon Lander2021 AFP