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MUSK vs BEZOS: US.gov rejects Blue Origin's NASA launch pad whinge

Musk: Do you even orbit, bro?

Endeavour on the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center. Pic: NASA

Blue Origin, the space company of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has lost its moan to the US government about SpaceX's bid to use an old launch pad of NASA's.

Both Blue Origin and Elon Musk's commercial space firm are competing to lease the pad, known as Pad 39A, which was left over from the space shuttle era in Florida.

But rather than waiting for NASA to declare a winner, Bezos' company filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), whining that the space agency's plans to turn it into a multi-user facility would scupper SpaceX's plan to use it as a second Florida base.

The GAO disagreed, however, saying that although the two approaches to using the pad were different, there was nothing on the record to say which approach would better meet NASA's objective, which is to achieve the fullest commercial use of its pad.

"Simply stated, that question will be resolved based on the comparative strength of the business cases presented by the offerors," the office said in its decision.

SpaceX already leases a launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, to the south of NASA's spaceport, but Musk's minions submitted a proposal to the agency to take over maintenance and operation of Pad 39A – thus turning it into the company's second base in the state.

Musk told Reuters back in September that he couldn't understand what the fuss was about, after Blue Origin protested that its multi-user plan was better.

"I think it's kind of moot whether or not SpaceX gets exclusive or non-exclusive rights for the next five years. I don't see anyone else using that pad for the next five years," he said.

"I think it's a bit silly because Blue Origin hasn't even done a suborbital flight to space,” continued Musk, “let alone an orbital one. If one were to extrapolate their progress, they might reach orbit in five years, but that seems unlikely." ®

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