The US government watchdog GAO rules that NASA does not need to negotiate with Blue Origin or other companies about its manned moon mission,

CNBC

writes

Friday.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos, the owner of Blue Origin, filed a complaint with GAO in April because NASA had initially promised it would sign a multi-party contract.

Bezos wanted to win the contract along with aerospace and defense companies Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper.

He hoped through GAO to increase pressure on NASA so that it would withdraw its previous decision to choose SpaceX.

However, the government agency rejected the complaint.

According to GAO, NASA is free in its choice, because the space agency has less budget for the mission than it originally thought.

That's why NASA has entered into an exclusive contract with businessman Elon Musk's SpaceX.

In addition, Musk's space company charged a significantly lower price than Blue Origin.

Bezos' company had requested nearly $6 billion (over $5 billion) from NASA, while SpaceX "only" wanted $2.9 billion (about $2.4 billion) to build the lunar lander.

This week, Bezos made a new offer: $2 billion.

Blue Origin will then bear the costs for the next two years, if NASA agrees.

That offer remains unchanged, a Blue Origin spokesperson told

CNBC

in response to GAO's ruling.

First manned moon mission since 1972

NASA last sent astronauts to the moon in 1972.

In that year, the American Apollo program ended.

Since 2007, NASA has been working on a sequel to Apollo: Artemis.

For this, NASA has been working on a new rocket and an astronaut capsule for some time, but the organization was still looking for a commercial company that would provide the lunar lander.

SpaceX's lunar lander Starship is currently under development and should be able to take groups of people to the moon and Mars in the future.

However, that will not be the spacecraft with which astronauts depart from Earth: the Orion capsule will be used for that.

Astronauts must take Orion into orbit around the moon, where two astronauts transfer to Starship.

The first moon landing - if all goes well - could possibly take place as early as 2024.