The Biden administration recently changed rocket procurement rules for Phase 3 of the National Security Space Launch System — the program the United States government uses to launch payloads into space — in a way that may provide significant financial benefits to Blue Origin and its founder, Amazon Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos.
As reported by Space News:
The strategy for Phase 3 is less rigid. Under the “dual lane” approach, companies that can’t fly to all orbits can compete for less demanding missions. This approach has been advocated by companies like Blue Origin and Rocket Lab.
This change has an obvious beneficiary: Blue Origin’s New Glenn launch system, which has yet to make it into space despite the company aiming to complete its first launch three years ago.
In the past, Bezos unsuccessfully attempted to use Congress and the courts to override NASA’s concerns about using New Glenn.
NASA’s Source Selection Authority made it clear in an April 16, 2021, Source Selection Statement that NASA found it inappropriate to move forward with using New Glenn in NSSL Phase 2 proposal, which would have cost the agency nearly $6 billion, or roughly twice the amount proposed by SpaceX.
“I am not selecting Blue Origin for an Option A contract award because I find that its proposal does not present sufficient value to the Government when analyzed pursuant to the solicitation’s evaluation criteria and methodology,” Lueders wrote.
The Senate Commerce Committee proposed an amendment that would effectively have overridden NASA’s concerns, giving Blue Origin $10 billion to participate in the program at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. That amendment did not ultimately get signed into law.
On November 4, 2021, in response to a Blue Origin lawsuit against NASA for its supposedly unfair treatment of the company, a federal judge dismissed Bezos’ arguments, writing that, “Blue Origin has not succeeded on the merits” and has not established “that NASA’s conduct during the procurement was arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise contrary to law.”
Now, the Space Force has changed the rules for NSSL Phase 3.
The Space Force is expected to spend a year evaluating bids after issuing a second draft Request for Proposals in May. It is unclear whether the Space Force’s rule change will result in contractual awards to Blue Origin.
Bezos’ Blue Origin has obtained hundreds of millions from NASA, the Air Force, and the Space Force despite never exceeding low-earth orbit with a space vehicle.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.
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