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US court rules in favor of Elon Musk over Jeff Bezos in space race

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Nov 05, 2021 - 09:40 AM

ANKARA (AA) – A US court ruled Thursday in favor of Elon Musk’s SpaceX against Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in a $2.9 billion lunar lander contract lawsuit, as the space race between the world’s two richest people intensified.

Judge Richard Hertling from the US Court of Federal Claims rejected Blue Origin’s complaint that challenged NASA for “unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals” for a lunar landing.

After the ruling, NASA said it would resume work with SpaceX under their contract as soon as possible.

“There will be forthcoming opportunities for companies to partner with NASA in establishing a long-term human presence at the Moon under the agency’s Artemis program,” it said.

The ruling was a major blow to Bezos who wrote on Twitter: “Not the decision we wanted, but we respect the court’s judgment, and wish full success for NASA and SpaceX on the contract.”

Musk had a comical reply, using a meme from the 2012 science fiction film, Dredd, that read: “You have been judged.”

The world’s two richest men have been racing to space since NASA ended its space shuttle program in 2011 after three decades and the US moved to private contractors for space missions.

Musk’s SpaceX is leading the race since 2010 when it became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft, and it has flown its Falcon 9 rockets more than 100 times.

Bezos flew to space on a suborbital flight on July 20 that lasted more than 10 minutes, which became the first fully automated flight with civilian passengers.

As of Thursday, Musk was on top of Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires List with a net worth of $320.5 billion, Bezos ranked second with $201.8 billion.

NASA’s Artemis program aims to land the first woman and first person of color on the moon, returning humans to the Earth’s only natural satellite after five decades when Apollo 17 last went there in 1972.

The first mission, Artemis I, is on track for 2021 without astronauts, while Artemis II will fly with a crew in 2023. Artemis III will land astronauts on the moon’s south pole in 2024, according to NASA, with an estimated cost of $35 billion in the next four years.

Artemis, in mythology, is the twin sister of the sun god, Apollo, the name of NASA’s program that put 12 astronauts on the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

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