Jeff Bezos’ and His Showdown with NASA over SpaceX Decision

In an article featured in the NYTimes, Bezos has begun a legal battle with NASA over a recent contract decision they made about an upcoming space mission. Much like Elon Musk did with SpaceX, Jeff Bezos has also founded his own space company entitled Blue Origin. With similar budgets to that of SpaceX and a growing technology division, Bezos believes that Blue Origin is a tough competitor for SpaceX making it a viable option for future NASA projects. Unfortunately for Bezos, NASA did not see it that way and SpaceX was recently selected to build a lander for an upcoming trip to the Moon. Bezos has immediately challenged this decision, stating that NASA leadership did not adequately consider all factors when choosing a company for this project.

Recently, SpaceX was announced to be the winner of a competition between the only three big companies prepared to complete the project. Aside from the prestige of winning such a big government contract, SpaceX also will review a 2.9 billion dollar contract. Bezos’ company leadership has expressed dissatisfaction with the process because they believe that the benefits of using Blue Origin were not completely weighed.

Bob Smith, who is the current chief executive of the Bezos space company, elaborated on this by saying that bottom-line costs and pricing became the primary motivator for selection and that NASA did not take the time to consider the real logistical challenges that SpaceX faces with a project such as this. Dynetics, the other company vying for the space contract, has also filed a similar appeal. Both companies believe that there are glaring errors that have been made in the selection process and the benefits of their services were not completely appreciated.

NASA has been silent on the allegations as it is an ongoing investigation. This decision comes after they had selected the Dynetics, SpaceX, and Blue Origin lunar lander concepts for further study about a year ago. The announcement came as a shock to Bezos because Blue Origins’ proposal was centered around support from other more seasoned space companies with a design that was similar to the one originally implemented for the original lunar landing. The SpaceX design was more focused on converting a rocket that has been dubbed Starship. It is tough to say if NASA will maintain their decision as the appeals are in their early stages, but Bezos and Dynetics believe that another look is warranted.

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