Artemis Moon Program

Flyaway

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Press Release
Statement on Blue Origin-Dynetics Decision

The following is a statement from Kenneth E. Patton, Managing Associate General Counsel for Procurement Law at GAO, regarding today’s decision resolving the protests filed by Blue Origin Federation, LLC, and Dynetics, Inc. – A Leidos Company, B-417839 et al., Friday, July 30, 2021.

On Friday, July 30, 2021, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied protests filed by Blue Origin Federation, LLC, of South Kent, Washington, and Dynetics, Inc.-A Leidos Company, of Huntsville, Alabama. The protesters challenged their non-selection for awards and the award of optional contract line item numbers to Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), of Hawthorne, California, under Option A to Appendix H of Broad Agency Announcement (the announcement) No. NNH19ZCQ001K. Broad Agency Announcements typically provide for the acquisition of basic and applied research for new and creative research or development solutions to scientific and engineering problems. The rules for these procurements are not the same as those for standard competitive federal procurements, as agencies generally enjoy broader discretion in selecting the proposals most suitable to meeting their research and development needs when utilizing broad agency announcement procedures. The announcement was issued by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), for a demonstration mission for a human landing system for lunar exploration.

NASA made award to SpaceX for a total evaluated price of $2,941,394,557. After noting that SpaceX submitted the lowest-priced proposal with the highest rating, and that the offers submitted by Blue Origin and Dynetics were significantly higher in price, NASA also concluded that the agency lacked the necessary funding to make more than one award.

In the challenge filed at GAO, the protesters argued that the agency was required to make multiple awards consistent with the announcement’s stated preference for multiple awards. Alternatively, the protesters alleged that the agency was required to open discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement when NASA, after the receipt of proposals, determined that it had less funding than it needed to support multiple HLS awards. The protesters also argued that NASA unreasonably evaluated all three of the proposals. Finally, the protesters argued that NASA improperly waived a mandatory solicitation requirement for SpaceX.

In denying the protests, GAO first concluded that NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award. NASA’s announcement provided that the number of awards the agency would make was subject to the amount of funding available for the program. In addition, the announcement reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award, or no award at all. In reaching its award decision, NASA concluded that it only had sufficient funding for one contract award. GAO further concluded there was no requirement for NASA to engage in discussions, amend, or cancel the announcement as a result of the amount of funding available for the program. As a result, GAO denied the protest arguments that NASA acted improperly in making a single award to SpaceX.

GAO next concluded that the evaluation of all three proposals was reasonable, and consistent with applicable procurement law, regulation, and the announcement’s terms.

Finally, GAO agreed with the protesters that in one limited instance NASA waived a requirement of the announcement for SpaceX. Despite this finding, the decision also concludes that the protesters could not establish any reasonable possibility of competitive prejudice arising from this limited discrepancy in the evaluation.

GAO’s decision expresses no view as to the merits of these proposals. Judgments about which offeror will most successfully meet the government’s needs are reserved for the procuring agencies, subject only to statutory and regulatory requirements. GAO’s bid protest process is handled by GAO’s Office of General Counsel and examines whether procuring agencies have complied with procurement laws and regulations.

Today’s decision was issued under a protective order because the decision may contain proprietary and source selection sensitive information. GAO has directed counsel for the parties to promptly identify information that cannot be publicly released so that GAO can expeditiously prepare and release a public version of the decision. When the public version of the decision is available, it will be posted to our website, “www.gao.gov.”

For more information, please contact Kenneth E. Patton at 202-512-8205, Ralph O. White at 202-512-8278, or Sarah Kaczmarek at 202-512-4800. More information about GAO’s Bid Protest process is also available on the GAO website.

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Flyaway

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View: https://twitter.com/DutchSatellites/status/1424050779170693126


It’s a little crazy that @NASA and @NASAArtemis haven’t tweeted about Starship full stack yet.

I don’t want to make a big deal of it but like… not only did your long time partner just build the largest most powerful ever. But it’s literally your HLS lander!

This is an interesting point as NASA has a vested interest in Starship. Back in 2020 I would talk to @JimBridenstine about Starship development (he loved it), but he couldn't talk publicly because of the HLS competition. But that's now settled.

Of course we know the real answer is SLS. In funding Starship, NASA supports a rocket that will make SLS obsolete immediately. Therefore while Starship may be the best HLS solution, NASA can't afford to poke Congress and the SLS defenders in the eye. So it watches, in silence.

NASA indeed watches in silence.
In public that is.
But private contacts at NASA are thrilled about Starship and Superheavy. They are even more excited about the pace of development.
Quite a bit of that enthusiasm is reflected in confidential internal reporting for Artemis & HLS.
 

Flyaway

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Flyaway

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Blue Origin seem determined not to let it lie.

View: https://twitter.com/wapodavenport/status/1425433746757595141


Blue Origin just not giving up on the HLS program. Says the GAO’s decision highlights issues that “will prevent the U.S. from landing on the moon” and says it is concerned about SpaceX needing 16 launches, with limited flight readiness reviews, to get Starship to the moon.

Blue statement:

"The GAO report confirms NASA's desire for multiple awards and confirms that there were significant issues with how NASA conducted this procurement process. The report highlights that these issues will prevent the U.S. from landing on the Moon in a safe and
sustainable way. We stand by our assessment that SpaceX received preferential treatment by conducting exclusive negotiations with them. We are especially concerned with the lack of flight readiness reviews in SpaceX's proposal. SpaceX's complex approach requires 16 consecutive launches with only three total flight readiness reviews instead of one for each launch which is consistent with common industry practice. Flight readiness reviews are fundamental to safety and are especially important with reusable vehicles and multiple launches in rapid succession. We continue to urge NASA to restore competition and immediately award a second provider. Two providers ensure greater safety and mission success, promote competition, and control costs."
 
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Flyaway

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View: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1425473261551423489


16 flights is extremely unlikely. Starship payload to orbit is ~150 tons , so max of 8 to fill 1200 ton tanks of lunar Starship.

Without flaps & heat shield, Starship is much lighter. Lunar landing legs don’t add much (1/6 gravity). May only need 1/2 full, ie 4 tanker flights.

View: https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1425474903436939266


However, even if it were 16 flights with docking, this is not a problem. SpaceX did more than 16 orbital flights in first half of 2021 & has docked with Station (much harder than docking with our own ship) over 20 times.
 

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Flyaway

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Nice very nice Flyaway, it is coming on nicely. I cannot wait to see it lift off the pad come October, getting very excited now. :cool:
What year? ;)

As things currently stand right now, I gather that it is this year. NASA has got the first launch of Artemis in its launch diary.
I reckon it will end up being in 2022.
 

starviking

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Flyaway

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NMaude

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Nelson: Blue Origin lawsuit adds further delays to Artemis​

Should import the UK idea of banning vexatious litigants from bringing suits to court.
I agree however doesn't the US have provisions for vexatious litigants? Anyway I hope BO's lawsuit is dismissed with prejudice also why is Jeff Bezos being an arsehole?
 

publiusr

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He is hurting old and new space alike.

Now I think there should be a second HLS…but a slimmed down Alpaca shorn of some weight.

That carries the crew—-Starship? The cargo. If there is a disaster then Old Space takes the heat if Alpaca crashes. If Starship crashes they only lose a huge rover…and you have Apollo 2.0 and the heat is off Musk since no one has died.

If both make it the crew has options on how to return and have plenty of floorspace both up high and down low—the best of both worlds. Margin.
 

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Nelson: Blue Origin lawsuit adds further delays to Artemis​

Should import the UK idea of banning vexatious litigants from bringing suits to court.
I agree however doesn't the US have provisions for vexatious litigants? Anyway I hope BO's lawsuit is dismissed with prejudice also why is Jeff Bezos being an arsehole?

It does. But simply advancing an unpopular or incorrect legal case doesn't make someone a vexatious litigant. It takes a pattern of harassment, frivolous motions, etc. There's a really high bar in general. The Blue Origin actions aren't even close to reaching that threshold.
 

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Nelson: Blue Origin lawsuit adds further delays to Artemis​

Should import the UK idea of banning vexatious litigants from bringing suits to court.
I agree however doesn't the US have provisions for vexatious litigants? Anyway I hope BO's lawsuit is dismissed with prejudice also why is Jeff Bezos being an arsehole?

It does. But simply advancing an unpopular or incorrect legal case doesn't make someone a vexatious litigant. It takes a pattern of harassment, frivolous motions, etc. There's a really high bar in general. The Blue Origin actions aren't even close to reaching that threshold.

I do not know why Blue Origin is filling the lawsuit against NASA, all it does is add further delays to the first Artemis launch and makes Blue Origin look like a bunch of idiots.
 

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Nelson: Blue Origin lawsuit adds further delays to Artemis​

Should import the UK idea of banning vexatious litigants from bringing suits to court.
I agree however doesn't the US have provisions for vexatious litigants? Anyway I hope BO's lawsuit is dismissed with prejudice also why is Jeff Bezos being an arsehole?

It does. But simply advancing an unpopular or incorrect legal case doesn't make someone a vexatious litigant. It takes a pattern of harassment, frivolous motions, etc. There's a really high bar in general. The Blue Origin actions aren't even close to reaching that threshold.

I do not know why Blue Origin is filling the lawsuit against NASA, all it does is add further delays to the first Artemis launch and makes Blue Origin look like a bunch of idiots.
If it's a meritless lawsuit then it should be dismissed and BO should be sanctioned for this.
 

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I have difficulty grasping the reality that, after 40 years or 50 years, a Shuttle Derived HLV will fly late this year.
Same for the SLS - ten years already !

Say what you want about SLS, but its liftoff will be one hell of a noise and light show.
 

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Flyaway

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Flyaway

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View: https://twitter.com/nasagroundsys/status/1433075550482993154


On Monday, Aug. 30, the next portion of the integrated test and checkout (ITCO) campaign for @NASAArtemis I, the first power up of the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) and various propulsion system tests on @NASA_SLS, was successfully completed!
Here's a new photo.
View: https://twitter.com/13ericralph31/status/1433089248912019456


Pretty much this since about 2015. What's amazing to me is that NASA officials acknowledge WDR won't happen until late November at the earliest, but they're still holding to a 2021 launch date. Come on.

More explanation:

View: https://twitter.com/lars_0/status/1432709754179162122


Eric can you explain why they will roll back into the VAB even if the WDR is successful?

View: https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1432710522122739721


Inspections and they have to attach certain explosives.
 

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Flyaway

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I hate to say I told you so but I posted up thread this would more likely launch in 2022. Now targeting between spring and summer 2022.


Damn. How I hate COVID. Oh well got something to look forward to look forward to come 2022.
It always seemed unlikely it would fly this year being as they are not due to do the WDR until late in the year.
 

Flyaway

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NASA Selects Five U.S. Companies to Mature Artemis Lander Concepts

NASA has selected five U.S. companies to help the agency enable a steady pace of crewed trips to the lunar surface under the agency’s Artemis program. These companies will make advancements toward sustainable human landing system concepts, conduct risk-reduction activities, and provide feedback on NASA’s requirements to cultivate industry capabilities for crewed lunar landing missions.

The awards under the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships (NextSTEP-2) Appendix N broad agency announcement are firm fixed-price, milestone-based contracts. The total combined value for the awards is $146 million, and the work will be conducted over the next 15 months. The companies that received awards and their award values are:

- Blue Origin Federation of Kent, Washington, $25.6 million.
- Dynetics (a Leidos company) of Huntsville, Alabama, $40.8 million.
- Lockheed Martin of Littleton, Colorado, $35.2 million.
- Northrop Grumman of Dulles, Virginia, $34.8 million.
- SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, $9.4 million.


“Establishing a long-term human presence on the Moon through recurring services using lunar landers is a major Artemis goal,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at Headquarters in Washington. “This critical step lays the foundation for U.S. leadership in learning more about the Moon and for learning how to live and work in deep space for future missions farther into the solar system.”

The selected companies will develop lander design concepts, evaluating their performance, design, construction standards, mission assurance requirements, interfaces, safety, crew health accommodations, and medical capabilities. The companies will also mitigate lunar lander risks by conducting critical component tests and advancing the maturity of key technologies.

The work from these companies will ultimately help shape the strategy and requirements for a future NASA’s solicitation to provide regular astronaut transportation from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon.

"Collaboration with our partners is critical to achieving NASA’s long-term Artemis lunar exploration goals,” said Lisa Watson-Morgan, Human Landing System Program manager at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “By partnering with innovative U.S. companies, we will establish a robust lunar economy while exploring new areas of the Moon for generations to come.”

This opportunity is distinct from the initial crewed lunar landing demonstration mission awarded under the NextSTEP-2 Appendix H procurement, which will serve as the proof of concept for the Artemis architecture.

NASA’s goals under Artemis include enabling a safe and cost-efficient long-term approach to accessing the lunar surface and becoming one of multiple customers purchasing services in a lunar transportation market. Much of what the agency develops for the Moon will be applied to future exploration at Mars.

NASA’s Artemis missions include landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface, sending a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the Moon, and establishing a long-term presence there.

 

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