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NASA’s $2.9 billion deal with SpaceX is suspended after the contract is challenged by competitors rival

NASA said Friday that NASA has suspended work on SpaceX’s new moon landing contract for $ 2.9 billion, and a federal watchdog has protested the ruling twice.

Putting the Human Landing System (HLS) on hold until GAO makes a decision on the two protests, meaning SpaceX will not immediately receive the first part of its $ 2.9 billion prizes, nor will it begin initial talks with NASA, which generally occurs at the beginning of the main contract.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX was selected by NASA on April 16. This is the first human lunar lander built by the agency since the Apollo program because the agency decided to rely on a single company to sign a compelling contract. Many people in the industry are expected to sign companies with the two companies.

As a result, Blue Origin and Dynetics, two companies that bid for the contract, lodged a protest with NASA’s Office of Government Accountability, which is responsible for resolving bidding disputes. Blue Origin accused the agency of “unfairly moving the goalpost at the last minute” and only chose SpaceX to jeopardize NASA’s swift 2024 timeline.

“Based on GAO protests, NASA directed SpaceX to suspend the progress of the HLS contract until GAO resolves all pending lawsuits related to the purchase,” NASA spokeswoman Monica Witt said in a statement.

SpaceX is reportedly developing a fully reusable rocket system that will eventually carry humans and cargo to the Moon and Mars. Starship won the NASA award, primarily for its strong cargo capacity and the proposed bid price of $ 2.9 billion. Well below the prices of Blue Origin and Dynetics. NASA font selection file.

So far, the development of Starship has been driven primarily by SpaceX’s billionaire founder and CEO Musk. The company has launched several prototype Starship during short, high-altitude test flights at the launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas. It turns out that landing the prototype after six miles at high altitude is a daunting challenge: All of SpaceX’s high-altitude rocket prototypes are destroyed in the explosion during the landing phase.

The development of SpaceX’s private interplanetary spacecraft may continue. The company’s latest testing of the SN15 spacecraft prototype will begin within days of obtaining permission from the Federal Aviation Administration this week.

NASA said that choosing a company from funds received by Congress was the best decision that could be made at the time. Last year, the United States Congress asked NASA to purchase $ 850 million of the $ 3.3 billion needed for three landers. 

This reward from SpaceX is a key “first step” in a broader plan to secure transportation to the moon. Time guarantees that new contractual opportunities will open up in the near future.

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