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Blue Origin Challenges NASA Human Lunar Landing System Award to SpaceX

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
April 26, 2021
Filed under , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Artist concept of the Blue Origin National Team crewed lander on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: Blue Origin)

The New York Times reports that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has challenged NASA’s decision to award a $2.9 billion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop the Human Landing System designed to return astronauts to the moon as part of the space agency’s Artemis program.

Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, said NASA’s decision was based on flawed evaluations of the bids — misjudging advantages of Blue Origin’s proposal and downplaying technical challenges in SpaceX’s. He also said NASA had placed a bigger emphasis on bottom-line cost than it said it would.

“It’s really atypical for NASA to make these kinds of errors,” Mr. Smith said in an interview. “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.”

He added that in any case, the space agency should have stuck with a desire it had stated many times, of wanting to hand out awards to two companies.

Blue Origin’s National Team included Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper. Dynetics was the other unsuccessful bidder to submit a proposal.

SpaceX won the contract with a proposal that will use a version of the company’s Starship vehicle, which is currently undergoing testing in Boca Chica, Texas.

The Government Accountability Office will now review the award and render a decision.

98 responses to “Blue Origin Challenges NASA Human Lunar Landing System Award to SpaceX”

  1. Emmet Ford says:
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    An awkward conversation may ensue when NASA instructs SpaceX to pause all contracted work pursuant to the requirements of contested government contract awards, and SpaceX replies with “Um, no.”

    • Terry Rawnsley says:
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      I don’t even see the instruction being made. NASA isn’t providing significant developmental funding and they may just withdraw the contract offer by mutual consent. The case for BO becomes moot leaving NASA with the opportunity to award the contract again a little farther down the road.

      • Emmet Ford says:
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        Having issued the contract, NASA is bound by its provisions, whatever they may be, and is required, when asked by the GAO, to justify it. Also, NASA presumably issued the contract for good reasons. They wanted to issue the contract. It follows that they would be reluctant to abandon it. Contract award protests are a commonly encountered time honored tradition. They have to have anticipated the possibility of this one,

        But this contract award protest has a twist that most lack. In this particular case, the NASA money does not approach half the expense of developing Starship. It’s nice to have, very nice to have, but the value of the NASA endorsement is probably greater than the value of the cash. What SpaceX really wants is NASA on board for their first foray to Mars. NASA on board makes Mars much more doable. The HLS source selection document, penned by Kathy Lueders, actually specifies that the Starship architecture is made more attractive by its obvious applicability to Mars. The head of human exploration just endorsed Starship to Mars! Just that conceit, if more broadly embraced by NASA in all its thousands, pays for the whole Moon detour thing, from the SpaceX perspective. That’s the real value of the contract, as a stepping stone to a Mars contract.

        Standard practice is, in the event of a contract award protest, you pause the contract. Work stops until the protest has been resolved. But presumably this contract is for work that SpaceX was already doing, would be doing in the absence of a contract, and will want to continue doing during this review.

        Perhaps the contract officer, anticipating this eventuality, crafted the contract in such a way as to not encompass Starship development work generally, but only Starship lunar lander work specifically, though at the very least the contract surely stipulates that NASA is deep inside the the SpaceX kimono, fiddling with the bits, with regard to all things Starship. “It rubs the lotion on its skin,” says NASA.

        I don’t see Elon Musk reacting well to the notion that the work on Starship should in any way be paused. That’s my thesis, which your response gave me the thin excuse to belabor at length.

        • Robert G. Oler says:
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          nothing will come of this nothing

          • Emmet Ford says:
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            I hope you are right. It would be nice if Congress ponied up the scratch for a second lander. Senator Cantwell from the great state of Washington seemed to be in favor of that during the Bill Nelson confirmation hearing.

            • GaryChurch says:
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              So predictable…first you don’t want anything to change and then you say “it would be nice.”

              The NewSpace crowd are a contradiction in terms.

              • Emmet Ford says:
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                The competition would be good. Another lander, dissimilar redundancy would be good. Another player operating in cislunar space would be good.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Competition is not as wonderful as it is made out to be by those leaning toward a free-market universe. It is often wasteful and dangerous, as the old hack about spaceships provided by the lowest bidder illustrate. It is often misused and conflated with going cheap; that ruinous path taken with many space projects. But you go ahead and spend more money on two of the same thing instead of enough on one. Sooner or later it becomes clear that there is no cheap.

              • Emmet Ford says:
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                I agree that unregulated competition can get pretty ugly.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Well…that’s progress. But isn’t “regulation” that horrid abomination that all good libertarians swear to shoot on sight? Neoliberalism condemns regulations as the tools of the devil and communism (well, anything that smells like taxation is communism and is blasphemy to them).

                That’s what I mean about contradictions in terms.

              • Emmet Ford says:
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                I’m not a libertarian, nor a neoliberal. And I’m all in favor of moving the marginal top tax rate back up to 70 percent, where it was in the 1960s, when we had a growing middle class, a rising standard of living, and led the world in every category, including infant mortality, quality of life and life expectancy. Actually, I think Ireland always edged us out in literacy.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Progressive taxation is the salient feature of a progressive worldview. It goes along with identifying as a… progressive. If you are a progressive I don’t understand how you can be a fan of NewSpace. You really have to be deluded and gullible to buy into their cult.

                NewSpace is a cancer. Ayn-Rand-in-space nutjobs. After interacting with sociopath arch-trolls like sejones, duheagle, mr. snarky, gunsandrockets, etc…don’t you get that?

                NewSpace delenda est

              • ThomasLMatula says:
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                Not to get off the topic, but the middle class did better then because higher tariff barriers made imports more expensive which was the main driver of the expansion of the U.S. economy since the 1860’s. It’s not hard to figure why U.S. firms build factories overseas when China has a 25% tariff on auto imports and the U.S. tariff is only 2.5%.

                Also in the 1960’s it was harder to run a corporation from outside the U.S. due to the primitive communication methods. Today, satellite communication would make it very easy for those in the high margin rates to simply move to tax havens and still run their business, just as Sir Richard Branson runs his business in U.K., which only has a 50% marginal tax rate, from his British Virgin Island home.

              • Emmet Ford says:
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                Yes, I’m using the tax rate as a one line stand in for actually taxing the great bulk of the wealth that our economy produces. Obviously, if the system of taxation allows for easily adoptable tactical options that allow monied interests to sidestep paying any taxes at all, that is what they will do.

                Elon Musk pays no taxes. He is considered to be one of the richest people on the planet. But he has no taxable income. All his wealth is in unrealized profits on the equity positions he holds in his own companies. He borrows money to live. He takes no salary. Not only does he not pay taxes, he may be eligible for public assistance. This is not a typical example, nor an exemplar, but it does point out that the tax system has not been well designed to tax actual wealth. But it does extract taxes from Elon’s employees fairly efficiently.

                The issue is that Elon and a tiny number of his near peers hold between them half the wealth of the nation, and it is not being taxed. And to a large extent, this is also true for a larger number of people who are not Elon’s near economic peers but who are, by less lofty standards, fabulously wealthy. The problem is not that we don’t soak the rich. We don’t tax them at all.

              • ThomasLMatula says:
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                That is because around a hundred years ago the approach to taxation was changed with the intention of soaking the rich. Remember the original income tax was on only millionaires when it first emerged. Campaign contributions shifted the burden elsewhere…

                The better approach is to tax consumption(sales tax), imports, sales of assets (stock). Then give everyone a monthly check, like in the Covid Stimulus, to make the first XX,000 dollars of consumption tax free for everyone. This takes the tax burden off of the majority of the population and shifts it to the wealthy but only if they buy things or sell assets.

                So a rich person buys a 10 million dollar house they pay tax on it, the more expensive the bigger the percentage of tax, a progressive sales tax.

                A corporation imports products from China to sell they pay a tariff, one large enough to make domestic production attractive.

                Someone sells their corporation, or stock, for millions, they pay a tax on it. Dividends also get tax to close that door to liquidation of assets. You also require corporations doing business in the U.S. to be incorporated here and majority owned domestically, something required in most foreign countries. Then those corporations pay a sales tax on gross revenue. Indeed, in most countries foreigners aren’t even allow to own land, or only under strict restrictions.

                It will shift investment thinking to the long term, not the infamous quarterly earnings report. It will also shift the mindset of individuals away from consumption, which will do the environment a lot of good.

                Yes, consumption will go down, especially for the top 25%, but the drop will be more from imports while domestic production, and jobs will increase if the tariffs are set right so a net for workers.

                Sure the trading “partners” who have gotten rich selling to the U.S. will scream, but turnabout is fair play.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                “-a hundred years ago the approach to taxation was changed with the intention of soaking the rich-“

                According to the rich. According to the 99 percent making up the rest it was to pay for a healthy educated workforce and infrastructure making the rich even more obscenely wealthy. Anti-trust laws had already had to be passed because the robber barons were rightly seen as a clear and present danger to democracy. Investing in what the Oligarchs simply will not is why progressive taxation is the fundamental requirement for a healthy nation.

                Your Neoliberal B.S. is destroying civilization slowly but surely.

              • ThomasLMatula says:
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                Which is a separate argument. But just look at what the Carnegie, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations did to improve education and health. They eliminated or controlled a number of diseases the government would not spend funding on, built numerous schools and thousands of libraries, science research, museums, things the government did not spend money on before WWII. Even the Smithsonian started from a bequest from a wealthy investor to the U.S government.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                A few individuals who decided to not imitate their sociopath peers.

                A worthless argument and a ruse.

              • ThomasLMatula says:
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                Actually it was most of the rich, or their children. Just look where the wealth of the early 20th Century industrialists ended up. Or else their kids just spent themselves into not being wealthy.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Actually not. You are inferring the rich spend their wealth on social services until they are not wealthy. A truly bizarre reversal of reality- the New Deal taxed them to accomplish that and they still remained rich. You would have people believe the rich are all altruistic friends of the masses. Insulting.

                Your trickle down and philanthropic B.S. is not going to work on anyone except Ayn Rand reading 7th graders and those that never grew out of it.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                “-the middle class did better then because higher tariff barriers made imports more expensive which was the main driver of the expansion of the U.S. economy since the 1860’s.”

                That drivel works on community college economics 101 students but not anyone with a lick of sense. The middle class did better because they were paid more. Why? Unions.

              • ThomasLMatula says:
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                Unions need leverage. They don’t have it when corporations have the option to shift production overseas, or you have a huge immigration influx. Indeed, unions were a main driver on the passage of laws a hundred years ago to regulate and limit immigration so that supply of replacement workers was cutoff. That is why they did so well from the 1930’s to the 1970’s.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Unions forced management into paying a living wage and a 40 hour week.

                Both have now been degraded in favor of maximized profit. The Reagan revolution set America back decades and began the decline that now sees disparate wealth and inequality far beyond anything in modern history.

                That is the truth. Your B.S. is about blaming unions for every problem created by industry.

              • ThomasLMatula says:
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                They were able to do so because business didn’t have a replacement source of labor with immigration limited. Free trade and immigration is what robbed the unions of their power.

                You are not going to force a corporation to pay better wages if low tariff barriers gives the corporation the option of closing the plant and moving the work to a foreign nation.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                They did so with strikes, which made it more expensive to keep underpaying and overworking them. You just don’t get it. The world is NOT flat and immigration is a separate issue.

              • ThomasLMatula says:
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                Strikes don’t work if you have an endless supply of immigrants that will take the jobs of the strikers.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Strikes did work despite an “endless supply” of scabs.

                Business had to go overseas to find wage slaves and our politicians were paid by the rich to make that work…for the rich.

                You are pushing Neoliberal propaganda put out by Koch brother (and other) think tanks.

                The same people that paid for voodoo economics and climate change denial.

              • redneck says:
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                Unions also fail when they create a work force that is relatively unproductive. Higher wages are not a problem if the workers are productive. When unions become a haven for nonprodutive practices and workers, the companies involved can’t compete. This is the kind of discussion that needs serious details that don’t work well on a blog. Misunderstandings and sidetracking are too easy here, Force is too often seen as an answer to problems well handled by self interest.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                “Unions also fail when they create a work force-“

                The only “productive” work force acceptable to Neoliberals was found before the civil war in the south. If you disagree read “Democracy in Chains” and get back to me.

                I rest my case.

              • Robert G. Oler says:
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                thats babble

              • duheagle says:
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                But not as ugly as unregulated government monopolism.

              • Emmet Ford says:
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                It certainly hasn’t been pretty in space launch. But it’s hard to say exactly where it went wrong. Do you blame it on the post war cold war mentality, when it was a government monopoly missile program dressed up in sheep’s clothing?

                Do you pin it on Nixon, who chose the shuttle?

                Satellites went commercial in an organic way. There was money to be made there, providing services. And there was enough money in operating satellites to support vendors that manufactured satellites. They made only a fraction of what the operators made, but it was enough.

                But launching those satellites was such a demanding, capital intensive undertaking that the market for that service just couldn’t support it. Launch has always been a quasi business that governments had to subsidize. And it still is. Who is actually making an honest buck launching stuff?

                SpaceX is the dominant player today, and they pay the bills on funding rounds and government contracts. Their new ploy is manufacturing and operating satellites, which are different lines of work, ones that actually do make money. How do you make a profitable space transportation company? You manufacture and operate satellites. In short, you do something else.

              • Vladislaw says:
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                we have already spent 40 BILLION On one and it is still years behind and billions over budget.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                It is paid for and the most powerful rocket ever built.

                We are going back to the Moon and there is very little doubt the SLS is going to take us there and do it quite well.

                But the only thing that matters to the fanboys is it is not spacex.

                This is why, as I have stated dozens of times, NewSpace fans are not really about space- they are about the flagship company representing their corrosive and pernicious ideology.

              • Vladislaw says:
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                No it’s not the most powerful ever built. The SLS is block 1 .. and no funding as yet for block II ..

              • GaryChurch says:
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                I think it is Vlad. You might not like it, but….If you think it is somehow not going to the Moon at this point, you have been smoking dope with your hero.

              • Vladislaw says:
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                It is not going to the moon. It is not even going orbital. The SLS will put an Orion capsule into LEO and then the 2 billion dollars worth of hardware will drown in the Atlantic Ocean like a disposable bic lighter..

              • redneck says:
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                A bic lighter gets many uses before disposal, not just one.

              • Vladislaw says:
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                The bottom line is you can not refill it .. you use it and toss it. Fortunately a bic is not costing the American taxpayer 40 billion and still not a single launch.

              • redneck says:
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                True, just that it’s so hard to believe anyone could still believe the SLS is anything but graft with a little left over for the work force. If it were a serious Lunar program, SLS would have been terminated in the concept phase.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Hard to believe after witnessing what it takes to go to the Moon the spacex fanboys believe the NewSpace scam deserves their devotion while their nation’s space program deserves nothing but scorn and ridicule. It is much like the Trumpist’s taking over the capitol. Treason by the gullible deluded followers of a cult figure pushing a corrosive pernicious ideology.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                The “bottom line” is that it is cheaper to expend it. Why we use plastic milk jugs. It costs far more to reuse a glass jug. See how that works?

              • Vladislaw says:
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                LOL .. you are comparing the 40 BILLION poured into SLS and Orion as the same class as a 25 cent milk jug? The amortized costs will add billions to each launch price. If SLS launches 5 times that adds 8 BILLION to the cost of each launch .. plus the 2 billion to build this boondoggle. So 10 billion per launch and then drown it in the Atlantic .. only YOU would call that a bargain.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Can’t help it that you don’t understand very basic economics. The capital YOU makes it clear this is another fanboy ad hominem. Blabbering a financial term and yapping numbers is one of the basic tactics of the scam.

                There are many flavors of fanatic across this spectrum and you are one of those that wants desperately to get on the spaceliner and fly to your zero G vacation…and it’s OK if it stops and gets gas on the way. That childish fantasy has done great damage and such misconceptions continue to hamstring space exploration. There is no cheap.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Artemis 1 is…going to the Moon- unless you are making a psychic prediction of some kind.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wi

                Whether it is cheaper to “drown” expendable vehicles by dropping them in the ocean or spend “billions” on the man-hours and facilities to turn them around remains to be seen. Likely reusability will eventually break even with a properly designed Super Heavy Lift Vehicle, probably expending some tankage (the best feature of the Shuttle), but the shiny is a lousy design and the falcon and lashed-together heavy version have way too many engines to be “economical.” Making up numbers and placing them in infomercial puff pieces is not evidence that spacex is actually making reusability break even.

              • duheagle says:
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                To a point. The National Team lander is dissimilar, alright, but doesn’t represent much in the way of redundancy in terms of crew and cargo capacity. And it’s way more expensive than Starship. On net, the only thing that recommends funding it is that doing so would quiet most of the barking dogs in Congress.

              • Emmet Ford says:
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                It really is all about mollifying Congress. And it’s on their plate. If they want a second HLS vendor, they need to fund a second vendor. And now they pretty much know how much that will cost.

                But can they just award a contract to the 2nd place contestant, the National Team, or do they have to rebid it? A new competition would give Boeing another bite at the apple, and it would afford Dynetics an opportunity to clean up their proposal. Who decides how that works? What are the rules?

              • P.K. Sink says:
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                Maybe…but we’re so darn loveable.

            • Robert G. Oler says:
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              they wont. because to do that means a LOT more money per year (at least what the initial award is and most likely several times that since both losing bids were more expensive then the SpaceX big) or taking money from SLS

              and besides. whats the point. the lunar goal is not that important. what is important and the choice of spaceX reflects that is using the contract to shape American space industry into something thats viable. neither of the losing bids seem at all innovative

            • Vladislaw says:
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              I doubt they could come up with more than 3 – 4 billion .. Blue Origin would have to change payments.

        • Robert G. Oler says:
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          It’s nice to have, very nice to have, but the value of the NASA endorsement is probably greater than the value of the cash

          dont think I agree with that

          musk needs the money to do two things 1) develop an environmental system that is long lived and robust and 2) he needs the “human rating” for his vehicle. plus 3 bills never hurt anyone

          • Vladislaw says:
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            “1) develop an environmental system that is long lived and robust”

            OR is designed and built to be easily and quickly repaired because when you have the cargo capacity to bring along 10 spares of parts you can design differently.

            • Robert G. Oler says:
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              the two things (what you and I said) are not exclusive. one way to achieve “long life” of the system is to have a system that is “fixable” and have the parts (implies mass) quanity to do it

              there is a mix here of course. in the world of the B29 what made the vehicle “work” is that the engines were not that reliable but there were well ilterally thousands of them…so you want to do better than that. but experience can bring that knowledge

              I think that this is where the NASA money will primarily go…and the operat ional experience from the station as well

              its going to be fascinating to me to watch and see how this develops

        • therealdmt says:
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          Not sure about the kimono bit (yikes), but I wouldn’t think NASA’s contract took over the entire ongoing Starship program, a program that will largely be used for commercial purposes (Starlink alone should provide more missions than Artemis, though perhaps not more flights when considering tanker flights).

          One would think the NASA contract covers the lunar lander version and meeting NASA’s various requirements for that. The lunar lander itself won’t use at all the regular Starship’s heatshield, belly-flop descent profile, flip to landing maneuver, landing engines or landing legs, so seemingly that work can continue unabated.

          The questions start to arise with the tanker version and, to a lesser extent, the Super Heavy booster, both of which are required to get Lunar Starship into position to execute its Artemis mission. Gotta wonder how much SpaceX allowed their hands to get tied with those two elements and also how deeply NASA felt it had to get involved. They won’t be human rated themselves, so perhaps it will be more to the extent of insight into what SpaceX is doing and certification thereof. Hmmm

          • Emmet Ford says:
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            I wouldn’t think NASA’s contract took over the entire ongoing Starship program

            Well, no. But it is a milestone based contract to develop a lunar lander, and we don’t know what the milestones are. Is getting the booster going a milestone? If it is, does that mean SpaceX is legally barred from getting the booster going during the contract pause? That would be dumb, but aren’t absurdities part and parcel of the long and tortured history of government contract lore?

            If none of the milestones come into play in the next 6 months of Starship development, then it probably doesn’t matter. By then, the matter should be settled. But if SpaceX finds itself in a tight spot surrounded by hair trigger milestones right now then maybe it does matter.

            • ThomasLMatula says:
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              Meanwhile, the Chinese appear to think Starship is worth duplicating.

              https://arstechnica.com/sci

              China’s state rocket company unveils rendering of a Starship look-alike
              The Asian country has tracked SpaceX from the beginning.

              Eric Berger – 4/26/2021, 8:50 AM

              • Robert G. Oler says:
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                I saw this. but this is typically Chinese. use someone elses thinking out of the box to show progress when they dont haave that effort in mind at all. look at the dates

              • Emmet Ford says:
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                As soon as the plans, blueprints and specifications for Starship are completed, China can get started. Maybe they should kick in on the lunar lander, speed up their development process.

              • Robert G. Oler says:
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                I would be surprised if they do. going to the Moon has near zero immediate value unless in the process it starts an entirely new aerospace industrial complex that turns out to be more like the aviation industrial complex after WW2….industrial revolutions are not the chinese things.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                O’Neill was a genius and picked what would work out of all the lesser possibilities. He understood global warming was likely going to be a problem and saw the solution.

                Space Solar Power….. about which our present day false prophet says, “Space Solar Power- the stupidest thing ever”

                Why I consider NewSpace the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration.

                The Moon is the factory site for the economic engine that will expand humankind off-world and an insurance policy for our species.

              • Emmet Ford says:
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                Musk’s argument against space solar power is that you are converting sunlight to electricity at the solar panel, then converting the electricity to light (microwaves) for transmission to the surface, then, at the surface, converting the microwaves to electricity for injection into the power grid, and that each conversion is so lossy as to make the whole proposition not worthwhile, given the expense of creating and maintaining a solar farm in space.

                Obviously, many engineers disagree with him. They think it is worthwhile, that the conversion losses are offset by the 24/7, always on nature of the architecture and the elimination of the need for grid scale storage.

                My concern is the microwave beam playing havoc with the environment, but that doesn’t ever seem to come up, so maybe it isn’t an issue. I’m more of an English Lit guy.

                Anyway, anyone is free to give it a go. I can’t imagine the Commerce Department would be much of an impediment if someone wants to try a pilot program. I’m sure SpaceX will be just as eager as any other launch provider to provide a Space Solar Power company rides to space, and if Starship works out nearly as well as Musk says it will, the launch prices should be pretty good.

                I’d like to see the Israelis give it a go, and if in the course of some sort of a microwave transmission mishap they were to inadvertently fry Marjorie Taylor Green as she was traversing the parking lot adjoining some shady adult establishment then that would be unfortunate. Space is hard.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                “Anyway, anyone is free to give it a go.”

                Not really….it is decided by, for the most part, individuals biased by a myriad of factors and coming to a decision they will explain in a way that satisfies those biases. Others involved have their own biases and agendas and if they are required on board a project, they may insist on their own particular details that may determine success or failure. This is how all technology has evolved at a snails pace across most of recorded history- until the scientific method was worked out. Not Howard Roark or John Galt.

                Unfortunately, the scientific method, while far better than anything before, has a few little problems of it’s own with bias, and combined with individuals, committees, or a combination, driven by multiple agendas, often produces bad decisions. The single worst obstacle is, of course, the profit motive. Profit is divorced from goal-seeking in that it is a goal in itself. This is at cross-purposes and incredibly destructive but painted by those driven by greed as the only factor worth considering.

                You raised a valid point- beaming energy through the atmosphere may have some effect that makes it unacceptable. But that has to be evidenced. Until it is, there is no other carbon-free way to provide a western standard of living to those 10 billion souls that will soon live on Earth. Nothing else will work- turning the Moon into a Space Solar Power satellite factory is the utilitarian path. The greatest good for the greatest number.

                Musk wants condos on Mars paid for by strip-mining Earth orbit as an insurance policy for humankind. The libertarian/neoliberal-minded that make up the majority of his fan club see no problem with that. It is a solution that comes straight from a borderline sociopath mentality. No better Fermi Paradox great filter can be found than this kind of throwing the dice and hoping the narcissist billionaire saves us all.

                NewSpace delenda est

              • Robert G. Oler says:
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                the first ones that will be likely to give it a try are the military. for deployed forces

        • P.K. Sink says:
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          …your response gave me the thin excuse to belabor at length…

          Funny!

    • Andrew Tubbiolo says:
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      I’d bet a stop work order is really a ‘stop spending government money and don’t apply any logged time to the charge account” order. In most businesses that amounts to a stop work order. I doubt dollar one from this award has found its way into any Space X account yet.

      • Emmet Ford says:
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        Yes, it’s all milestone based, no prepayments. So I suppose issues might arise if SpaceX starts knocking off contract milestones during the pause.

        But this is all guesswork. I don’t know what the milestones are, not how much NASA involvement would be required to hit any of them. And I don’t know the actual legal details involving this sort of mandated stand down. It’s all guesswork and supposition, attempting to deduce from half imagined first principles what might actually be true.

        • ThomasLMatula says:
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          Perhaps, but SpaceX is going forward with it regardless. If NASA makes those milestone payments fine. If not then SpaceX will just charge more for its operation flights to the Moon. Who knows, by then SLS/Orion might be scrapped and there will be a new set of requirements and SpaceX will get a contract to deliver the crew to the Lunar Starship in LEO instead of the Gateway.

          • Robert G. Oler says:
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            this is a complete reset of the national human space effort. who knows what the goal will be 6 or more years away when this actually has flying hardware

  2. Robert G. Oler says:
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    He also said NASA had placed a bigger emphasis on bottom-line cost than it said it would.||

    HMMMM

    • therealdmt says:
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      It’s only the taxpayers’ money after all.

      “Let us not get drawn into these unseemly distinctions of cost” 🙂

    • Emmet Ford says:
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      Blue Origin’s strongest argument is the notion that NASA is creating a commercial deep space monopoly. Who’s delivering Gateway to lunar orbit? SpaceX. Who’s delivering cargo to Gateway? SpaceX. Who’s delivering crew to the lunar surface? SpaceX. What is the obvious second phase of the Artemis program, the sustainability phase, Option B? Eliminate SLS/Orion. Launch crew on Dragon to Starship in LEO, and then deposit them on the lunar surface, with possible stops at the Gateway. SpaceX. How does NASA send crew to Mars? SpaceX.

      Once Option A has been executed, NASA now has a vendor with a super heavy rocket that is fully reusable, refuelable in LEO, certified for crew, having landed crew on the Moon. Who competes with that? Who is winning the next set of contracts for whatever?

      The counter argument is that SpaceX wins the bids they win based on merit and Congress cheaped out on HLS so NASA could not make a second award for more than twice as much money to the second place competitor that had already been lapped by SpaceX.

      But the competition argument has validity. The goal is not to replace the government monopoly with a SpaceX monopoly. The short term goal is dissimilar redundancy. The broader goal is to grow an industrial space ecosystem containing multiple players in competition with one another, increasing our capabilities and infrastructure, and (this is where we do the hand waving) creating room for business cases to close and commercial economic activity not dependent on government largess to grow to encompass the inner solar system and beyond. Or, as I like to think of it, my science fiction future.

      Blue Origin is suing for monopoly protection. I doubt that they expect their protest to be sustained on that basis. The message is really aimed at Congress. But it is in there.

      • Robert G. Oler says:
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        well we will see. but my theory is that if SpaceX suceeds then the immediate step is not a lunar base nor a trip to Mars …but a space industrial revolution that a lot of people are going to try and make money on. if SpaceX is a success with Starship the numbers to orbit change even more then with Falcon. and what happens when those numbers change is where the money is, not government contracts.

        • GaryChurch says:
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          Except LEO, like Mars, is a complete dead end.

          100,000 pieces of space junk beaming cat videos and enabling gamers when those several billion people without access generally only want clean water and medicine.
          A build-it-and-they-will-come scam.

  3. GaryChurch says:
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    There is at least some hope that shiny monstrosity will die with a whimper.

    “A bunch of people will probably die” Elon Musk

  4. Andrew Tubbiolo says:
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    I love this ” misjudging advantages of Blue Origin’s proposal “. What awesome douplespeak. Orwell is impressed no doubt. It’s not just governments that play this game.

    • GaryChurch says:
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      Saying NASA misjudged something has zero to do with Orwell.
      But…SpaceX fanboys practice Orwellian reverse-naming as a lifestyle. You should know.

  5. GaryChurch says:
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    The fan club screams cheap from the mountaintops in the comments here- as if spacex was not built on the taxpayer dime after promising a quick cheap astronaut ride to the ISS. They launched satellites for profit for many years while that ride took a long time to arrive. Just strapping three hobby rockets together took them about 5 years longer than promised. Expect a lunar return to be delayed at least 5 years because of the shiny while they figure out 6 refueling missions in LEO is not going to work.

    “Hypocrisy Here” is a sign posted over the entrance to the clubhouse.

    NewSpace delenda est

  6. redneck says:
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    Blue needs to compete in hardware if they are going to compete in court. That lack of track record is more important than the high bid IMO as a restructuring of payments could have accommodated that to some extent. SpaceX needs some solid competition and Blue so far ain’t it.

    • GaryChurch says:
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      Blowing up test articles four in a row might not really be a good example of “competitive hardware.”

      In fact, considering they have had one failure landing their New Shepard, I would be going with that as an indication that Blue is correct in stating NASA is guilty of poor judgement in this case.

      New Shepard is more of a Lunar Lander now than the shiny will likely ever be. Spacex P.R. and the fanboy idiocracy would disagree but…it is what it is.

      • Mr Snarky Answer says:
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        Narrator: They have not had zero failures landing their New Shepard

        • GaryChurch says:
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          My mistake. The first one had a hydraulic failure? Let me fix that. I think all the capsules landed OK. Since the shiny does not have a capsule….

          And the boosters seem to land really well, again and again and again. Instead of blowing up again and again and again. It even has an escape system. See how that works?

          https://www.youtube.com/wat

          • Ball Peen Hammer ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ says:
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            “And the boosters seem to land really well, again and again and again. Instead of blowing up again and again and again. It even has an escape system. See how that works?”

            And “the shiny” has only blown up doing a flip maneuver that will never be performed by the HLS. The HLS and Raptor engine have a 100% success rate for launch and purely vertical landing, which is what will be needed for the HLS. In contrast the BE-7 engine for Blue Origin’s lander has 0 seconds of flight time accumulated. See how that works?

            • GaryChurch says:
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              I see something big and shiny blowing up and something much more appropriately sized landing and not blowing up. Do you see that?

              If you do not I would say you are in that certain group that tends to blind one to any other view.

              While I have to say the New Shepard booster demonstrates potential as a Lunar Lander…it is still not the best design, only the best available.

              Far better than that shiny monstrosity.

              NewSpace delenda est

              • Mr Snarky Answer says:
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                One of the best parts of future Starship prototype RUDs (of which there will be more than one) is going to be watching Gary get his hopes up and proclaim SpaceX is dead again.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Yes…the best. Keep some kleenex handy to wipe yourself you malicious freak.

              • Ball Peen Hammer ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ says:
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                ‘I see something big and shiny blowing up and something much more appropriately sized landing and not blowing up”

                That’s the problem. All you do is look at the pictures instead of reading the words of the article to get an understanding of what is happening.

              • GaryChurch says:
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                Fanboy, all you do is worship your cult hero and regurgitate NewSpace B.S.

                You and your gang are the worst thing that has ever happened to space exploration. Shame on all of you. The best thing that could happen is if that shiny hobby-welded junk keeps blowing up and he finally gives up. Hopefully….

              • redneck says:
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                The F9 has been landing an orbital class booster that would call the New Shepard a moderately sized payload.

  7. gunsandrockets says:
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    What a depressingly predictable and impotent action by Blue Origin.

    SLS delenda est

  8. GaryChurch says:
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    So much for the miracle of entrepreneurial competition and the invisible hand of the market.

    The sole source just sucked up the corporate welfare check with a back-room deal.

    Depressingly predictable in this age of Neoliberal corruption and influence peddling.

    NewSpace delenda est

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