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Deep Space Systems Files Protest Over NASA CLPs Task Order

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 22, 2019
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The Moon as seen from the International Space Station (Credit: ESA/NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Deep Space Systems has filed an appeal with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) over NASA’s decision to award Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) contracts to three rival companies.

On May 31, NASA awarded contracts worth $253.5 million to Astrobotic, Intuitive Machines and OrbitBeyond to carry up to 23 payloads to the moon on three commercial missions scheduled for launch between September 2020 and July 2021.

Deep Space Systems, which is based in Littleton, Colo., filed a bid protest with GAO on June 24. The government watchdog is scheduled to render a decision on the protest on Oct. 2.

The GAO website does not provide any details on the reason for the protest. Deep Space Systems has not responded to requests for comment.

NASA terminated its $97 million contract with OrbitBeyond on July 28 after the company informed the space agency that internal corporate challenges would prevent it from delivering its payloads to the lunar surface in a timely manner. The company had targeted a landing in September 2020.

NASA’s CLPS program pays companies to deliver payloads to the moon rather than having the space agency commission and build its own landers and orbiters. Nine companies are qualified to bid on CLPS task orders.

2 responses to “Deep Space Systems Files Protest Over NASA CLPs Task Order”

  1. Andrew_M_Swallow says:

    It is a good thing that NASA picked the 3 cheapest bids. It makes winning the protest harder.

    I wonder if the other CLPS firms are bidding to replace OrbitBeyond?


    • duheagle says:

      The three awards weren’t necessarily to the three lowest bidders as the missions and their payloads are not identical and neither was the state of readiness of the various companies in the CLPS pool. Until there is some official release of info about this protest, I guess we’ll just have to wonder what it’s all about. Maybe price, maybe something else entirely.

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