NASA pauses SpaceX lunar lander contract amid competitor outcry

Brittany A. Roston - Apr 30, 2021, 7:06pm CDT
NASA pauses SpaceX lunar lander contract amid competitor outcry

Earlier this month, SpaceX scored a NASA lunar lander contract, beating out competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics. Fast-forward to this week when Blue Origin filed a challenge with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which soon confirmed that Dynetics is also protesting the newly awarded NASA contract.

In light of these challenges, NASA has paused the lunar lander contract and told SpaceX to temporarily stop work under it, according to Reuters. The Government Accountability Office is expected to rule on the matter by August 4; until that ruling arrives, SpaceX won’t be able to work on developing the lunar spacecraft.

Blue Origin has accused SpaceX of having ‘monopolistic’ control when it comes to space exploration. As well, Blue Origin’s protest includes a claim that SpaceX was given the opportunity to revise its contract bid, but that Bezos’ company wasn’t, stating to Reuters that NASA ‘moved the goalposts at the last minute.’

Dynetics has been tight-lipped about the nature of its complaint. Under the contract, SpaceX will develop the first lunar lander from a commercial company to put humans on the Moon. The milestone-based contract is valued at $2.89 billion and is a key part of NASA’s Artemis mission.

For its part, the Government Accountability Office has confirmed that two formal challenges to the contract have been submitted and that NASA has suspended SpaceX’s work until its ruling:

Pursuant to the GAO protests, NASA instructed SpaceX that progress on the HLS (human landing system) contract has been suspended until GAO resolves all outstanding litigation related to this procurement.


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