NASA opts for SpaceX as the sole firm to win a deal in order to build and demonstrate a crewed lunar lander. This is while keeping the entry accessible for others to compete for upcoming operations. On 16th April, NASA releases that it awards a deal to SpaceX for Option A of the Human Landing System (HLS) program. This includes the expansion of a crewed lunar lander and a demonstration operation. The fixed-price, landmark-based deal has a total value of $2.89 billion.
SpaceX is one of three companies that receive preliminary HLS agreements almost one year ago for early design work on their lander conceptions. SpaceX offers an edition of its Starship vehicle, launched on its Super Heavy booster. It refuels in low Earth orbit prior to going to the moon.
NASA officials earlier state they would try to make more than one Option A accolade in order to maintain competition in the program. “Competition — having various contractors for us — is an exceptionally vital principle. It’s on our minds.” This is mentioned by Mark Kirasich who is the director of the innovative exploration systems division at NASA.
However, a hurried call schedule with the media in order to declare the selection of only SpaceX. Executives admit that restriction on budgets forces them to pick only SpaceX. The organization receives $850 million for the HLS program in the fiscal year 2021. The amount is worth about one-fourth of its initial request.
Kathy Lueders is the NASA assistant director for human discovery and operations. She said that various evaluations on the following are done:
- What we are receiving from the presentation mission
- Our expectation from our potential future procurement for our sustainable landers
The above is in NASA’s best benefit, along with the budget for it to award only SpaceX.
In a resource selection report, NASA said that SpaceX’s price was lesser than the other two teams. The other teams include:
- Blue Origin
Following technical ratings and management ratings received by the 3 teams:
- SpaceX – “Acceptable” and management rating of “Outstanding,”
- Blue Origin – “Acceptable” and management rating of “Very Good”
- Dynetics – “Marginal” and management rating of “Very Good”
However, Blue Origin’s price was “significantly higher” than SpaceX and Dynetics were “significantly higher” than Blue Origin.
Lueders is the resource assortment authority for HLS. In conclusion that although Blue Origin’s proposal “has merit”. However, she did not opt for it for a second Option A accolade “because I understand that its proposal does not represent an adequate benefit to the Government.” Due to its inadequate funds after choosing SpaceX for one award. “I do not have sufficient capital available to even make an attempt to bargain a price from Blue Origin. This could possibly facilitate a deal award.”
Performance by Dynetics is even worse. With Lueders closing that its request “is overall of restricted merit and is only slightly in alliance with the objectives as set forth in this solicitation.”