NASA tells SpaceX to stop lunar lander work pending contractual challenges

In this NASA-provided document, Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk watches the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the balcony of the Operations Support Building II carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur. , ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide on board April 23, 2021 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, in Florida.

NASA | Getty Images

US space agency NASA has asked Elon Musk’s SpaceX to stop work on a contract won to develop a lunar spacecraft, pending the outcome of challenges from rival bidders to the US Government Accountability Office , the agency announced on Friday.

NASA’s move means SpaceX must halt any work specifically related to the lunar program contract until GAO issues a decision, scheduled for August 4 at the latest.

A SpaceX spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, NASA awarded SpaceX the lunar contract on Blue Origin from billionaire Jeff Bezos and defense contractor Dynetics.

The high-level project aims to put humans back on the moon for the first time since 1972.

Blue Origin filed a protest with the GAO on Monday, arguing among other things that NASA gave SpaceX the opportunity to revise its offer but did not give Blue Origin that chance.

Blue Origin also argues that the decision extends SpaceX’s “monopoly” control to space exploration.

The GAO confirmed that Dynetics also challenged the award of the NASA contract to SpaceX.

“Following protests from GAO, NASA informed SpaceX that progress on the HLS (Human Landing System) contract has been suspended until GAO resolves all outstanding disputes related to this market,” said the agency Friday.


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