Musk’s SpaceX Starship complex, high risk

Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos walks with Blue Origin’s President and CEO Bob Smith after Bezos flew on the corporate’s inaugural flight to the sting of area, within the close by city of Van Horn, Texas, U.S. July 20, 2021.

Joe Skipper | Reuters

Jeff Bezos’ area firm stays on the offensive in criticizing NASA’s choice to award Elon Musk’s SpaceX with the only real contract to construct a car to land astronauts on the moon, despite the government last week denying Blue Origin’s protest.

In an infographic printed on Blue Origin’s web site and seen on Wednesday, the corporate known as SpaceX using Starship to move NASA astronauts to the lunar floor an “immensely complicated & excessive danger” method. Blue Origin is referring to a criticism that NASA officers made in evaluating Starship for the lunar lander program.

“There are an unprecedented variety of applied sciences, developments, and operations which have by no means been finished earlier than for Starship to land on the Moon,” Blue Origin wrote.

Final Friday, the U.S. Authorities Accountability Workplace denied Blue Origin’s protest of NASA awarding SpaceX with a $2.9 billion contract under the Human Landing System program. In three one-page documents, Blue Origin decried NASA’s choice as “unsuitable for America’s management in area” and repeated its prior critique that the area company “ran an inconsistent and unfair competitors” — though the congressional watchdog dominated that NASA didn’t.

“NASA ran a flawed acquisition and ignored the numerous dangers of a one supplier mannequin,” Blue Origin wrote.

The corporate needs NASA to award a second contract underneath the unique Human Touchdown System acquisition construction. Whereas NASA has stated it will provide future contracts underneath HLS by means of Lunar Exploration Transportation Providers awards, these contracts are anticipated to be $45 million or much less every.

Starship criticism

Starship prototype rocket SN15 launches from Boca Chica, Texas.


Starship prototype rocket SN15 touches down on the corporate’s touchdown pad on Might 5, 2021, in Boca Chica, Texas.


Blue Origin made further technical comparisons, noting that SpaceX’s plan requires greater than 10 Starship launches to land as soon as on the moon and must be refueled in orbit, “a course of that has additionally by no means been finished earlier than.”

Lastly, Blue Origin in contrast the peak of the astronaut exit hatches. Starship’s exit is 126 toes off the bottom, and conceptually makes use of an elevator to deliver astronauts to the floor, whereas the Blue Origin lander is 32 toes off the bottom and requires crew drop down a protracted ladder.

One comparability that Blue Origin didn’t make was in regard to value. NASA cited value as a significant component in its choice to solely choose one winner underneath the Human Touchdown System, as a consequence of Congress granting the company a fraction of its requested funds for this system. SpaceX bid $2.9 billion, whereas Blue Origin was roughly double at $5.99 billion.

Within the first spherical of Human Touchdown System contracts, NASA handed out almost $1 billion in idea improvement awards – with SpaceX receiving $135 million, Dynetics getting $253 million, and Blue Origin receiving $579 million.

Blue Origin’s lander

A mockup of the crew lander car at NASA’s Johnson Area Middle in August 2020.

Blue Origin

Bezos initially unveiled a lunar lander called Blue Moon in May 2019, earlier than pivoting the following yr to accomplice with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper on a unique idea for the Human Touchdown System. Whereas the corporate has not examined any spacecraft in orbit, its companions have — some extent Blue Origin emphasised by saying that its lunar lander “system is solely constructed on heritage methods and confirmed applied sciences which can be flying as we speak.”

For its half, Blue Origin leverages the rocket engine and touchdown applied sciences its honed with its suborbital space tourism rocket New Shepard over the course of 16 flights.

Blue Origin additionally emphasised that its method was easier than SpaceX’s, as Bezos’ lander “solely requires three launches” and has “far fewer in-space rendezvouses.”

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