NASA recently chose the space exploration company SpaceX, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, to build the lunar lander. The lander will eventually put the first woman and person of colour on the moon.
However, this decision sparked fury between billionaire Jeff Bezos and Musk.
Blue Origin, the Bezos-owned space exploration company, filed a protest with the federal Government Accountability Office against NASA. This happened after the agency awarded the $2.89 billion contract to SpaceX.
Musk, with his humorous personality, took to Twitter to tease Bezos over that lawsuit. Musk joked on Twitter that Bezos "can't get it up (to orbit)".
In the 50 page protest, Bezos' company stated that their bid for the project was $5.99 billion, SpaceX's bid came in at $2.91 billion.
CEO of Blue Origin, Bob Smith, stated that NASA's decision to award the contract to SpaceX was based on flawed evaluations. He's accused NASA of placing more emphasis on cost.
Smith said the space agency should have stuck to its oft-stated desire to award the contract to two companies.
"It's really atypical for NASA to make these kinds of errors," said Smith.
Blue Origin revealed in a statement: "They're generally quite good at acquisition, especially its flagship missions like returning America to the surface of the Moon. We felt that these errors needed to be addressed and remedied. NASA has executed a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goalposts at the last minute."
The statement continued: "In NASA's own words, it has made a "high risk" selection. Their decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also endangers America's return to the Moon. Because of that, we've filed a protest with the GAO."
Blue Origin representatives stated that "NASA had indicated an overriding intention to make two awards. But, due to perceived shortfalls in currently available and anticipated future budget appropriations, it made only the award to SpaceX. Thus, eliminating HLS competition, and effectively locking down immediate and future lunar landing system development, launch and lunar landing opportunities."
NASA announced last year that three companies, SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics, would compete to turn the plans into a reality.
NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, revealed in April that: "With these contract awards, America is moving forward with the final step needed to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024. Including the incredible moment when we will see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface."
The initial 10-month contracts totalled $967 million: Blue Origin received $579 million, Dynetics $253 million and SpaceX was awarded $135 million. However, it will be SpaceX's innovation that will carry the next two American astronauts to the lunar surface.
Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Explorations and Operations Mission Directorate, said: "This critical step puts humanity on a path to sustainable lunar exploration, and keeps our eyes on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars."
SpaceX's HLS Starship will include the company's tested Raptor engines, along with pulling inspiration from the Falcon and Dragon vehicles' designs.