(Reuters) — Blue Origin, the space rocket company backed by billionaire Jeff Bezos, is formally challenging NASA’s $ 2.9 billion lunar landing contract to rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The two richest men in the world have been fighting in a fierce global space dispute, disputing contracts with government agencies and companies.
Blue Origin said on Monday that it filed a protest to the Federal Government Accountability Office, accusing NASA of moving the beams to bidders at the last minute.
Musk responded with a tweet that said, “I can’t get it to go up (into orbit) lol.”
He did not elaborate on the tweet, but pasted a screenshot of a 2019 report on Bezos revealing the Blue Origin lunar module on the same topic as Twitter.
Blue Origin lagged far behind SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) in orbital transport, losing billions of US dollars. national security launch contracts starting in 2022. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.
The company suffered another blow earlier this month when NASA awarded SpaceX the contract to build a spacecraft to take astronauts to the Moon as early as 2024, choosing Musk’s company over Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc.
The coveted project aims to put humans back on the Moon for the first time since 1972.
“NASA performed a failed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and changed the beacons at the last minute,” Blue Origin said in an e-mailed statement.
“Their decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly restricts the supply base, and not only delays, but also jeopardizes America’s return to the moon. As a result, we have filed a protest with the GAO.”
Musk’s SpaceX bid on its own, while Amazon.com founder Bezos ’Blue Origin partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Draper.
Blue Origin’s presentation of the 50-page protest was previously reported by the New York Times.