- Parabolic Arc
- June 2, 2023
Bezos Ends Challenge to NASA Lunar Lander Award to SpaceX
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos tweeted yesterday that he accepted a court’s dismissal of the company’s challenge to NASA’s decision to award a single lunar lander contract SpaceX. He wished the space agency and rival company full success in landing two astronauts on the moon.
NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to develop the Human Landing System in April. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) rejected protests from Blue Origin and Dynetics in July. Bezos’ company subsequently appealed in court.
14 responses to “Bezos Ends Challenge to NASA Lunar Lander Award to SpaceX”
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How gracious of Jeff Bezos to accept a court ruling. I’m sure the judge heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Judge Hertling is fine with Bezos appealing. The case merely gets kicked upstairs to the Federal Circuit Appellate Court if BO decided to appeal. Judge Hertling wouldn’t have to deal with it either way.
Someone sane at BO’s legal department probably managed to convince Bezos that it would be futile to appeal. Rather than convince just 1 judge in the Court of Federal Claims, in the appeals court they would have to convince the majority of a panel of judges, which would be way harder.
They would likely lose the Federal Circuit appeal, and the only place remaining where they can try to ask for a final appeal would be the U.S. Supreme Court. But it is extremely unlikely Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (who oversees the Federal Circuit) would agree to hear this case in SCOTUS since it doesn’t raise any constitutional issues.
It is delicious to see the bald supervillain suffer his well-deserved defeat. 😀
The failure point of all of Bezos’ court cases is always rooted in the lack hardware.
You make a point that bears repeating fairly often. If he had comparable hardware, everyone would take him much more seriously and contracts would follow.
Consider his patent suit against SpaceX after they had been landing at sea. He totally patent trolled that case. If he was anywhere near as SpaceX was to landing rockets, I’ll bet the judge would have given them the case. I thought SpaceX was doomed.
The method of landing a rocket booster on a floating platform had been publicly disclosed previous to the Blue Origin patent application date. In their patent application, Blue Origin had either failed to sufficiently check prior art or they failed to disclose known prior art, and the patent application was resultingly approved by the USPTO examiner and then registered. However, one cannot patent known prior art, and in effect, there simply was no patent
That’s not how it usually plays out. It’s incredibly difficult to prove the prior art in patent cases.
In this case, at least one similar method had clearly been previously published. What was needed was disclosure of that as a reference in the patent application and showing in the application a non-obvious improvement over the prior art to solve a problem in the field. For such referential purpose, similarity is sufficient.
However, since the prior art was not disclosed in the patent application, the USPTO examiner could not refer to it to make a comparison of Blue Origin’s applied for method invention against the published prior art to determine the existence (or lack thereof) of inventive step. There was thus no valid examination, and U.S. Patent 8,678,321 is unenforceable.
Although there was a nuance involved with a limited number of claims, it was basically an open and shut case. Regarding whether SpaceX was infringing Blue Origin’s patent right, there was nothing to judge due to the original application document [upon which the granting of the patent had been based] having been fatally flawed.
Wait, that landing wasn’t flight hardware? They didn’t deflate super lightweight pressure stabilized LH tanks at the end of that demo?
Flight hardware yes, comparable no.
Thus far, all such failures seem even more rooted in failure to make a case.
In these cases hardware makes or breaks the case. NASA went with SpaceX because they already had a flying program, good engines, and a viable path to flight, soonest. Of all the programs that have ANY real hope of landing on the Moon within 3 years it’s Starship( However, I still think that prospect is thin.). If BO had working engines, a clear direction to a viable path to a lunar lander and operational boosters to launch it, the NASA contracting would have been very different. Just as if Bezos hopped a New Sheppard to a floating barge out at sea, I’ll bet his patent case would have come out different.
“He wished the space agency and rival company full success in landing two astronauts on the moon.”
He should have done that to start with.
Kill New Glenn and turn SLS into an Energiya-Buran system with Boeing. A jet spaceplane safer than Starship ever could be.
Off your meds again I see.