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31/07/2021 08:28:56  

The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Friday denied protests from companies affiliated with Jeff Bezos that NASA wrongly awarded a lucrative astronaut lunar lander contract solely to Elon Musk's SpaceX. CNBC reports: "NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award ... the evaluation of all three proposals was reasonable, and consistent with applicable procurement law, regulation, and the announcement's terms," GAO managing associate general counsel Kenneth Patton wrote in a statement. The GAO ruling backs the space agency's surprise announcement in April that NASA awarded SpaceX with a contract worth about $2.9 billion. SpaceX was competing with Blue Origin and Dynetics for what was expected to be two contracts, before NASA only awarded a single contract due to a lower-than-expected allocation for the program from Congress. NASA, in a statement, said that the GAO decision will allow the agency "to establish a timeline for the first crewed landing on the Moon in more than 50 years." "As soon as possible, NASA will provide an update on the way ahead for Artemis, the human landing system, and humanity's return to the Moon. We will continue to work with the Biden Administration and Congress to ensure funding for a robust and sustainable approach for the nation's return to the Moon in a collaborative effort with U.S. commercial partners," the U.S. space agency said. A Blue Origin spokesperson told CNBC that the company still believes "there were fundamental issues with NASA's decision, but the GAO wasn't able to address them due to their limited jurisdiction." "We'll continue to advocate for two immediate providers as we believe it is the right solution," Blue Origin said. "The Human Landing System program needs to have competition now instead of later -- that's the best solution for NASA and the best solution for our country."

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