Government Watchdog Denies Protests Against NASA’s HLS Contract Award
The Government Accountability Office has denied a series of protests filed over NASA’s decision to issue a single award for the Human Landing System contract instead of two.
Blue Origin and Dynetics contested the award in April, citing issues with several aspects of the acquisition process and the elements of NASA’s technical evaluation.
GAO maintained that NASA did not violate procurement law upon awarding the HLS contract to SpaceX. The government watchdog also asserted that NASA reasonably evaluated all three proposals submitted for consideration, SpaceNews reported.
According to Kenneth Patton, managing associate general counsel for procurement law at the GAO, NASA is not required “to engage in discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement as a result of the amount of funding available for the program.”
NASA was initially open to awarding the contract to two companies but budget shortfalls forced the space agency to settle with a single contractor to build the lunar landing system. SpaceX secured the contract with a winning bid of $2.89 billion.
The denial of Blue Origin and Dynetics’ protests will allow NASA to move forward with the HLS program. SpaceX’s human lander, said to be based on its Starship vehicle, will play a key role in the final leg of the astronauts’ journey to the surface of the Moon.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson remains optimistic that Congress will eventually provide additional federal funding for a second HLS award.
In June, the Senate approved legislation granting $10 billion to support NASA’s HLS program. Specific language in the bill preserves the award already made to SpaceX and requires NASA to select a second company within a 60-day period.
Tags: Bill Nelson Blue Origin Dynetics GAO Government Accountability Office Human Landing System Kenneth Patton NASA space SpaceNews SpaceX