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NASA Forced To Pause Work On SpaceX’s Moon Landing System Until Jeff Bezos’ Lawsuit Reviewed

by : Hannah Smith on : 20 Aug 2021 18:27
NASA Forced To Pause Work On SpaceX's Moon Landing System Until Jeff Bezos' Lawsuit ReviewedPA Images

NASA has temporarily stopped work on the development of its new lunar landing system, after Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin sued the US government over the decision to award the contract for the project to SpaceX.

The space agency said it had agreed to pause the project until November pending the outcome of the claim, which was filed with the US Federal Claims Court earlier this week.

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Blue Origin alleges that NASA unfairly awarded a single $2.9 billion contract for the lunar lander to SpaceX, and is asking for the process to be rerun to give Bezos’ space company the chance to develop its own system.

Blue Origin (PA Images)PA Images

A spokesperson for NASA told Reuters that in return for an ‘expedited litigation schedule’ ‘all parties’ had agreed to the three month delay.

In a statement they said ‘NASA officials are continuing to work with the Department of Justice to review the details of the case and look forward to a timely resolution of this matter.’

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The lunar lander project forms a key part of Project Artemis – NASA’s plan to return humans to the moon within the next four years – meaning delays as a result of the lawsuit could set the agency back in its quest to launch a crewed lunar mission by 2024.

The lawsuit marks a major escalation in Blue Origin’s attempts to win the chance to participate in the development of the lunar lander, and comes less than a month after Jeff Bezos wrote directly to NASA offering to waive $2 billion in costs if the agency granted his space company a contract to develop a competing lander system.

NASA (PA Images)PA Images

In an open letter, Bezos argued that NASA’s initial decision ‘bets our return to the Moon on a single solution of ‘immense complexity and heightened risk” that ‘will ultimately cost more, and won’t serve the national interest.’

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In July, a complaint filed with the Government Accountability Office over the decision to award SpaceX the sole contract was also rejected, leading Blue Origin to this week take the matter to court.

In a statement issued after the lawsuit became public on Monday, August 16, Blue Origin said they hoped to ‘remedy flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA’s Human Landing System.’

SpaceX have not commented on the news of the official delay

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Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is a London-based journalist at UNILAD. After studying History at UCL she worked for print publications on both sides of the pond, including spells at Harper's Magazine and The Times, before graduating with an MA in Newspaper Journalism from City, University of London.

Topics: Technology, Blue Origin, NASA, SpaceX

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Reuters
  1. Reuters

    NASA halts SpaceX work on lunar lander after Blue Origin suit