Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Monday as the aerospace company continues to challenge NASA's decision to award a $2.9 billion contract to its competitor SpaceX for the agency's Human Landing System program.
A Blue Origin spokesperson told FOX Business that the suit, which has been approved by a judge to remain under seal, is "an attempt to remedy the flaws" in NASA's acquisition process.
"We firmly believe that the issues identified in this procurement and its outcomes must be addressed to restore fairness, create competition, and ensure a safe return to the Moon for America," the spokesperson added.
A NASA spokesperson told FOX Business the agency has been notified of the suit and that officials are "currently reviewing details of the case."
Blue Origin argued in a protest filed with the Government Accountability Office in April that SpaceX was given preferential treatment during the HLS selection process when NASA allowed Elon Musk's company to adjust the pricing of its proposal.
GAO, which has upheld NASA's decision after denying protests by Blue Origin and Dynetics last month, explained that, under the terms of the procurement, NASA reserved the right to approach any company it had tentatively selected to modify their HLS proposal.
Despite GAO's acknowledgement that a flight readiness review requirement for SpaceX was waived under NASA's award, the agency noted that Blue Origin and Dynetics' protests failed to establish "any reasonable possibility of competitive prejudice."
While NASA originally intended to offer multiple HLS contracts, it said the decision to award one contract solely to SpaceX was due to budgetary restraints. Bezos has offered to cover over $2 billion of NASA's costs in exchange for a second HLS contract.
NASA's Artemis program is looking to carry astronauts back to the moon as early as 2024, though Musk says Starship could be ready for the mission "probably sooner."
"With our partners, we will go to the Moon and stay to enable science investigations, develop new technology, and create high paying jobs for the greater good and in preparation to send astronauts to Mars," NASA added. "As soon as possible, the agency will provide an update on the way forward for returning to the Moon as quickly and as safely as possible under Artemis."
In addition to its lawsuit, Blue Origin has released a revised infographic attacking Starship, claiming the spacecraft would be an "immensely complex and high risk" for NASA due to the fact that it has "never flown to orbit and is still being designed." Blue Origin also claims that Starship would take as many as 16 flights to fully fuel before each lunar landing.
Musk has defended Starship's capabilities, arguing that while 16 flights would "not be a problem" it is "extremely unlikely."
"SpaceX did more than 16 orbital flights in first half of 2021 & has docked with Station (much harder than docking with our own ship) over 20 times," he tweeted.
Musk also fired back at Blue Origin in a separate tweet.
"The sad thing is that even if Santa Claus suddenly made their hardware real for free, the first thing you’d want to do is cancel it," he said.
According to USAspending.gov, NASA has paid SpaceX approximately $439.6 million of the total funding allocated under the HLS contract.