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Dynetics has joined Blue Origin in protesting Starship contract by NASA

Capitalism in space? Dynetics today joined Blue Origin in protesting NASA’s decision to award SpaceX the sole contract for building a manned lunar lander, using its Starship spacecraft.

Though the company’s protest did not going into specifics, it appears that Dynetics main complaint is the decision to not award two companies a contract, as originally planned. Even so, these factors make Dynetics bid quite problematic:

Of the three bidders, Dynetics was the lowest ranked. It had a technical rating of “Marginal,” one step below the “Acceptable” that Blue Origin and SpaceX received. Its Management rating of “Very Good” was the same as Blue Origin but one step below SpaceX’s “Outstanding.”

In the source selection statement, Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said the Dynetics lander “suffered from a number of serious drawbacks” that increased risk. The lander was overweight, which at this early stage of development “calls into question the feasibility of Dynetics’ mission architecture and its ability to successfully close its mission as proposed,” she wrote. The evaluation also questioned the maturity of the technology for performing in-space cryogenic fluid transfer required to refuel the lander, as the company planned.

Lueders concluded that “while Dynetics’ proposal does have some meritorious technical and management attributes, it is overall of limited merit and is only somewhat in alignment with the objectives as set forth in this solicitation.” The document only stated that Dynetics’ proposal had a price “significantly higher” than Blue Origin’s proposal, which in turn was significantly higher than SpaceX’s winning bid of $2.89 billion. Blue Origin disclosed in its protest that it bid $5.99 billion. [emphasis mine]

So, Dynetics proposed to build an overweight lander and do it at the highest price. If anything this protest enhances Blue Origin’s protest. It certainly doesn’t do much for Dynetics.

In fact, a good metaphor for the bidding here would be to imagine three vacuum cleaner salesman arriving at your door, all at the same time. One salesman, Mr. Newbie Dynetics, offers you a vacuum cleaner (as yet unbuilt in any form) that as presently designed will only be able to suck in about two-thirds of the dirt on your floor, and demands you pay $800 for it. The second salesman, Jeff “Blue” Origin, says his design (also unbuilt) is far better because they’ve done some successful tests of a tiny handheld prototype, and in addition he’ll only charge you $599 for it.

Neither Newbie or Jeff have any financing, so you will have to foot the entire bill.

The third salesman, Elon Starship, shows up with a full size prototype that while it has some problems, actually functions, and has been tested a number of times already. He also has more than two thirds of his development already financed by others, and only wants to charge you $289.

Who would you pick?

Since I know my readers are neither elected officials nor government officials in Washington and therefore know how to use their brains intelligently, I suspect I know.

We shall soon find out just how smart or dumb those elected officials or government officials in Washington really are.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Jeff Wright

    Dynetics low to the ground design would at least make for a good hopper. Hate to see lawyers in the mix.

    Covid was the wrong disaster. It should have been a space threat-so stores stayed open while federal funding floodgates only opened to space firms instead of big pharma and widescreens going to big box stores. This is how China stays profitable after Trump tried to level things.

  • ‘Elon Starship’

    My brain immediately went to ‘Ziggy Stardust’.

  • wayne

    that’s my cue…

    David Bowie high on coke
    -The Dick Cavett Show

    –> amazingly insightful!

  • wayne

    “I like to get things done, I like to be useful. That, is one of the hardest things to do, is to be useful.”

    Elon Musk / Joe Rogan
    (episode 1169)

  • Jeff Wright

    Elon Star-runner is a cool name too.

  • Col Beausabre

    Suing after selection is SOP, so -unfortunatrly – we’ll have to get used to it

  • iowaan

    “We shall soon find out just how smart or dumb those elected officials or government officials in Washington really are.”

    Those decisions are only dumb if you believe the officials purpose is to get maximum value for the taxpayers.

    When you admit that the officials real purpose is to increase their personal income, status, and power, then the decisions are understandable, although wrong from the taxpayers point of view.

  • Lee Stevenson

    This one is a “no brainer”… It will be interesting to see how things pan out… The “orbital mechanics” podcast had an interesting discussion on the subject on their last episode. @Col Beausabre, serious question, what does “SOP” stand for?

  • Lee Stevenson: SOP stands for “Standard Operating Procedure.” I agree however: I hate acronyms when real words work instead.

  • Lee Stevenson

    Thanks Bob.

  • wayne

    I’m just a psych-major, but you always have to watch out for ‘TLA,’ –>three-letter-acronyms.

  • I’d have thought ‘SOP” would be ‘CU’ (commonly understood).

  • Jeff Wright

    I guess this Alpaca just got shorn

  • wayne

    now, I’m just going off the rails….
    (could be the OCD, the ADD, or the ASD…)

    The Pacific –
    “Sledgehammer & Snafu”

  • Star Bird

    L.Ron Hubbard Dynetics and Scientology just another dangerous Cult to beware of

  • wayne

    Star Bird–

    “Leah Remini on Finding Out About Xenu”
    Joe Rogan Experience episode: 908

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