Tesla CEO and multibillionaire, Elon Musk, and Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, have been competing for a coveted government contract to build a spaceship that could return astronauts to the moon by 2024. The Tesla CEO won the competition earlier this month and NASA awarded a $2.9 billion contract to the SpaceX team.
Mr Bezos’ rocket company, Blue Origin, filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), accusing NASA of moving the goalposts at the last minute.
In response to the protest, Mr Musk took a swipe at Jeff Bezos on Twitter writing that Mr Bezos “can’t get it up (to orbit) lol.”
He did not elaborate on the comment made in the tweet but simply continued the thread by pasting a screenshot of a 2019 report about Mr Bezos’ unveiling of the Blue Origin’s moon lander.
While Blue Origin has yet to have a spacecraft reach orbit or fly a single astronaut into space, SpaceX rockets are regularly used to launch commercial satellites and transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
Earlier this year, Mr Bezos’ rocket company launched its suborbital New Shepherd Rocket system but was manned by a crash-test dummy rather than an astronaut.
Speaking on the decision to grant SpaceX the contract, NASA cited the proposed cost and cargo space as key reasons why it beat Blue Origin and Dynetics, a US defence contractor.
Blue Origin accused the space agency of reducing its budget for the contract, according to The Times.
It further states: “Their [Nasa’s] decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base and not only delays but also endangers America’s return to the moon. Because of that, we’ve filed a protest with the GAO.”
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NASA has been notified of the protests but could “not provide further comment due to pending litigation.”
The monumental contract holds importance as the project will aim to put humans back on the moon for the first time since 1972.