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NASA halts SpaceX running on Lunar Lander amid Blue Origin protests

Artist's conception of SpaceX's spaceship on the lunar surface.

Artist’s conception of SpaceX’s spaceship on the lunar surface.
illustration: A. SpaceX

NASA has suspended SpaceX. $ 2.9 billion moon lander To send astronauts back to the moon due to protests filed against Blue Origin and Dynetics, a company that the space agency has not chosen to build a lunar lander.

On Friday, NASA spokesman Monica Witt released a brief statement on the pause and said it will remain until the Government Accountability Office resolves complaints related to the procurement follow. EngadgetPAO has to 4 Aug.Recently, to make decisions about the challenges presented by Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and defense contractor Dynetics.

“On April 26, NASA was informed that the Blue Origin Federation and Dynetics filed a protest challenging the Option A human landing system with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO),” said Witt. NASA ordered SpaceX that progress on the HLS contract is suspended until GAO ceases all pending litigation in connection with this procurement.NASA could not provide further comment as it is pending litigation. ”

Gizmodo contacted NASA to confirm Witt’s statement on Saturday, but did not receive a response by the time of publication. SpaceX’s request for comment was not immediately responded to. We will update this blog if we receive a response.

NASA’s command to halt SpaceX on a lunar lander that will use the spacecraft launch system means SpaceX will not receive an immediate $ 2.9 billion first installment award. Verge reportThe company will not start the first negotiations with NASA, which was customary when it started making a big contract.

However, considering SpaceX plans to use Starship to carry cargo and crews into Earth, Moon and Mars orbit, the company is likely to continue developing the spacecraft, Verge said earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration said. Allowed The next three Starship prototypes Several Starship prototypes have flown at high altitudes. But to date, all flights have ended in an explosion.

In the complaint last Monday Blue Origin Alleged NASA has “made a defective acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goal post at the last minute.” First, the company stated that NASA indicated its intention to award two awards for the lunar landing system. But changed his mind because “Recognize the shortage” in the current and future budgets. Going with a single carrier threatens to eliminate competition in this area, Blue Origin claims.

That’s not all, among other perceived slights, Blue Origin is also crying foul over the price of a lunar lander.The company gave NASA $ 5.99 billion, which is twice the price of SpaceX, however. Company NASA allows SpaceX to modify prices, but does not provide the same opportunity for Blue Origin and Dynetics.

Dynetics, which also File a complaint On Monday said NASA should revise its lunar landing guidelines or withdraw the solicitation when it learned that two companies were not funded. SpaceNews reportsInstead, NASA decided to take the “most anti-competitive and risky option.”

NASA’s decision made SpaceX the lunar spacecraft for the foreseeable future, Dynetics confirmed, according to SpaceNews.The company also criticized NASA’s analysis of SpaceX’s technical approach.

“NASA has failed to consider the risks inherent in SpaceX’s technical approach, and in particular, the information that is too close for NASA to ignore – that four SpaceX Starships have exploded at different phases of the flight. Tested over the past several months, ”Dynetics said in a complaint,“ NASA referred SpaceX to such a significant lack of system engineering. ”

The company has a point there, Blue Origin appears to be at the forefront of the bidding process, and options for lunar landers are considered sensitive and safe. Vertical rocket landings on the lunar surface and beyond are possible none of these has ever been done before. It is also necessary to prevent Starships from exploding.

NASA’s current plan is to send two astronauts, a male and a female, to the lunar surface by 2024.

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