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NASA is stopping SpaceX’s work on a lunar landing amid a protest of blue origins



The artist's concept of landing SpaceX on the lunar surface.

The artist’s concept of landing SpaceX on the lunar surface.
Illustration: SpaceX

NASA has stopped SpaceX working on it A lunar landing for $ 2.9 billion to bring astronauts back to the moon due to protests filed by Blue Origin and Dynetics, the companies the space agency did not choose to build its lunar lander.

On Friday, NASA spokeswoman Monica Whitt announced that she had issued a brief statement announcing the pause, saying it would remain until the Government Accountability Office resolves complaints about the procurement, according to Engadget. GAO has up to August 4at the latest to address the challenges posed by Blue Origin, founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and defense contractor Dynetics.

“On April 26, NASA was notified that the Federation of Blue Origin and Dynetics had filed protests challenging the choice of an Option A landing system by the US Accounting Office (GAO),” Witt said. “In line with GAO’s protests, NASA has instructed SpaceX that progress on the HLS contract has been halted until GAO resolves all outstanding litigation related to this order. NASA is unable to provide further comments due to the pending lawsuit. ”

Gizmodo contacted NASA to confirm Witt’s statement on Saturday, but received no response by the time of publication. A request for comment from SpaceX was also not returned immediately. We will update this blog if we hear back.

NASA’s ordered break on SpaceX’s work on the lunar landing, for which it will use its Starship launch system, means that SpaceX will not immediately receive the first installment of the $ 2.9 billion prize, reported Verge. The company will also not begin initial talks with NASA, which are common at the beginning of a major contract.

However, given that SpaceX plans to use Starship to transport cargo and crew to Earth’s orbit, the moon and Mars, the company is likely to continue to grow on Starship, Verge said. Earlier this week, the Federal Aviation Administration said he had allowed the next three launches of the Starship prototype. Several prototypes of Starship have flown altitude, but to date all flights have ended in explosions.

In its complaint lodged on Monday, It is said that Blue Origin that NASA “wrongly acquired the Human Landing System program and moved the poles at the last minute.” First, the company said NASA indicated its intention to make two awards for its lunar landing system, but has changed its mind due to “alleged shortcomings” in its current and future budgets. Switching to a single supplier threatens to eliminate competition in this area, Blue Origin claims.

But that’s not all. Among other perceived troubles, Blue Origin is also crying out for a foul on the price of the lunar landing. The company gave NASA a price of $ 5.99 billion, more than double the price of SpaceX. However, states the company that NASA allowed SpaceX to revise its price, but did not give Blue Origin and Dynetics the same opportunity.

Dynetics, too filed his complaint claims on Monday that NASA should have reconsidered its approach to the lunar landing or withdrawn the request after realizing that there was no funding to support two companies, SpaceNews reported. Instead, NASA decided to choose “the most anti-competitive and high-risk option.”

NASA’s decision essentially makes SpaceX its moon landing provider 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 take into account the risks inherent in SpaceX’s technical approach, and more specifically the information that is too available for NASA to ignore. that four SpaceX spacecraft have exploded at various stages of their test flights in recent months, “Dynetics said in the complaint. “NASA has given SpaceX a pass for the apparent lack of such systems engineering.”

The company has a point there. Blue Origin seemed to be the leader in the bidding process, and his choice of a lunar device was considered sensitive and safe. SpaceX must prove that its Starship approach, which involves loading a rocket into space and landing a rocket vertically on the lunar surface, among others, is possible. None of these things have ever been done before. It must also protect its spacecraft from explosion.

NASA’s current plan is to send two astronauts – a man and a woman – to the lunar surface in 2024.


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