Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos continue to fight with each other over space, but this time, NASA is involved. Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon.com and Blue Origin, a privately-funded aerospace manufacturer. Like SpaceX, Blue Origin makes rocket ships. Bezos recently made headlines when he took one of his ships sub-orbital and streamed videos of the flight online. Meanwhile, Elon Musk had a little fun laughing at him on social media, because Bezos only just touched outer space. The rivalry between the two is clear to the public, so it wasn’t a surprise when both men’s companies were bidding on the same contract with NASA to get their rocket to space. When SpaceX won the contract, Jeff Bezos filed a lawsuit. Now, NASA and SpaceX can’t go to the moon until the lawsuit is handled.
Why is Jeff Bezos suing NASA exactly? NASA had a certain amount of funding to go to the moon. NASA hasn’t sent astronauts there since 1972, so the trip is a big deal. However, Congress was only going to give NASA so much to make this happen. SpaceX and Blue Origin submitted their contract proposals for the trip. SpaceX won a $2.9 billion contract. Blue Origin’s proposal was for $5.9 billion. They didn’t seem to expect that NASA would go with the lowest bidder, but they did.
In July, Jeff Bezos tried again and submitted a proposal that was $2 billion cheaper, but that still didn’t cut it. NASA is going with SpaceX. So, Bezos is suing. He argues that NASA should have changed their terms once they realized Congress wasn’t giving them more money for the contract. In May, NASA’s attorneys wrote a report, saying that, basically, that it was Blue Origins’ own fault for losing the contract. They wrote: “Realizing now that it gambled and lost, Blue Origin seeks to use GAO’s procurement oversight function to improperly compel NASA to suffer the consequences of Blue Origin’s ill-conceived choices.”
Currently, the Jeff Bezos lawsuit is delaying the moon program. Of course, it also doesn’t endear the agency to Bezo’s company, which doesn’t seem like a strong move for its future in space. Elon Musk has been quoted saying that Blue Origin should put more effort into going into space and less into lawsuits. When Vox asked Elon Musk about it, he said, “You cannot sue your way to the moon, OK?” Meanwhile, Blue Origin has been saying that SpaceX doesn’t follow proper safety protocols, which Elon Musk says makes no sense. The two appear to be bickering publicly, which seems like something that will only increase as the two companies continue their ambitions in space.
It’s not currently known how long Jeff Bezos can hold up NASA’s moon mission, but it does currently have things in a standstill. It’s hard to imagine that after all this, Blue Origin believes they’ll get the moon contract for themselves. It seems more likely that they believe, someone, the lawsuit will set standards they can follow for future contracts, but it’s hard to say what billionaires believe they can make happen.
The latest rumor for Jeff Bezo’s space company is that the next time they launch, they’ll be bringing William Shatner on board. William Shatner played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series. If true, the star may be making his own documentary when it happens.