Blue Origin vs. SpaceX
The billionaires and their unfair race to the Moon: Bezos sues Nasa over Musk
With their space companies SpaceX and Blue Origin, the two ultra-rich Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are engaged in a fierce competition. He is now even going to court – in the form of a lawsuit against Nasa. It’s not about the whole thing, apparently.
Who lands on the moon first? This race from the 1960s is being repeated. But this time it does not take place between deeply hostile nations as a symbol of the struggle between the capitalist West and the socialist East – but as a private feud between two of the richest men in the world. Elon Musk is currently ahead: His company SpaceX is to build a new lunar lander on behalf of Nasa. But competitor Jeff Bezos has not yet given up. And now try it by court.
With a lawsuit against the US space agency, the Amazon founder wants to prevent the order. There have been mistakes in the procurement process, argues his company Blue Origin. “We are very sure that there were legitimate disputes about the award procedure and its outcome, “the company told”Space News”. “They need to be enlightened in order to restore fairness, create competition and allow America a safe return to the moon.”
In particular, the awarding of the approximately 2.5 billion euro contract to SpaceX seems to worm Blue Origin’s management. In a graphic reminiscent of a pamphlet, the company had attacked the competitor, mocking the supposedly technically hardly mature technology of SpaceX.
Officially, the lawsuit is about the award procedure. After the space agency had not ruled out commissioning several companies to build a lunar lander in the tender, only the company of Tesla founder Elon Musk had ultimately won the contract. According to insider reports, the management of Blue Origin was sure of its own employees, reports “Ars Technica”. SpaceX had therefore simply made the cheapest offer.
However, the US Court of Auditors has already contradicted this: Nasa has communicated from the beginning that it also depends on the budget whether one company or several receive the order, the authority explained. Because the US Congress had only released a quarter of the requested sum, it had become just one. Blue Origin does not recognize this. “We remain committed to our assessment that SpaceX will receive preferential treatment,” the company said in a statement.
SpaceX’s offer is about half cheaper than Blue Origin’s. One of the reasons: Musk’s company agreed to pay much of the development costs for the lander itself. Blue Origin, on the other hand, did not want to contribute more than two billion dollars.
Employees are frustrated
The employees do not seem to like the lawsuit particularly well. Several employees complained to ” Ars ” that they have little to do with the course of corporate management. They find the attacks on Nasa and SpaceX counterproductive and unsportsmanlike. “Personally, I don’t think the majority of employees are behind the graphics and the PR actions,” an anonymous employee complained to Reddit. “Everyone I talked to about it found it disgusting and embarrassing to be perceived that way in public.”
In fact, Bezos could not only be about the order for the lunar lander. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was the only person to overtake him as the richest person in the world for a short time since Bezos was able to conquer this title for himself. In addition, the Amazon founder sees himself as a real reason for talking about moon landings again, believe employees of Blue Origin. According to “Ars Technica”, he sees his efforts in 2017 to convince Donald Trump of the project as an occasion for the resumption of the lunar program by Nasa. “He believes that without Blue Origin there is no program for a lunar lander,” one employee is convinced.
Bezos himself had actually declared such a campaign embarrassing – when it was not yet about his own company. “These days there would be protests and the losers would sue the government,” he quipped at an Apollo 11 landing event in 2019. “That’s funny today. Today, processes are slowed down more by procurement processes than by technological problems.”With his lawsuit, he is now contributing to it himself: Nasa has frozen the project until clarification.
Source: Space News, Ars Technica