NASA suspended the lunar lander contract with SpaceX, which was reportedly worth $ 2.9 billion. Elon Musk’s SpaceX was selected by NASA on April 16 this year to build NASA’s first human lunar lander since the Apollo program. However, the decision was challenged by SpaceX competitors who filed protests with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).
NASA suspends Moonlander’s contract with SpaceX
As reported by Verge, SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics were vying for NASA’s Artemis mission. The Artemis mission is the name of NASA’s program to bring astronauts back to the lunar surface. After NASA announced that SpaceX would be the aerospace company to work on the lunar lander for the mission, the other two companies protested the decision.
The company further allegedly argued that NASA gave SpaceX the opportunity to revise its offer when Blue Origin did not have the opportunity. Additionally, Blue Origin argued that NASA’s decision to choose SpaceX would strengthen SpaceX’s “ monopoly ” control over space exploration.
Dynetics and Blue Origin filed protests with GAO and Blue Origin even alleged that by selecting only SpaceX, NASA endangered the 2024 schedule. Blue Origins also alleged that the agency had unfairly “shifted the poles” goal at the last minute ”. NASA spokeswoman Monica Witt made a statement on the matter on the media portal.
She said that in light of the GAO protests, NASA has informed SpaceX that progress on the HLS contract has been put on hold. The contract will remain on hold until GAO resolves all outstanding procurement-related disputes, the reports suggest.
As reported by the media portal, a NASA source selection document reveals that SpaceX’s offering was much cheaper than that of Blue Origin and Dynetics. SpaceX’s fully reusable rocket system being developed to ultimately transport humans and goods to the moon and Mars has interested NASA in SpaceX’s proposal. As mentioned above, the media portal suggests that SpaceX’s bid was $ 2.9 billion.
What is the Artemis program?
As stated on the official NASA website, the mission is to land the first woman and the first person of color on the moon. NASA will collaborate with commercial and international partners. In addition, it will establish sustainable exploration for the first time.
IMAGE: SPACEX UNSPLASH