According to fresh sources, NASA has reportedly suspended work on SpaceX’s new $2.9 billion lunar lander contract while a federal watchdog agency adjudicates two protests over the award.
On April 16th, SpaceX was picked by NASA to build the agency’s first human lunar lander since the Apollo program. However, since the space agency opted to rely on just one company for a high-profile contract it created a huge problem. Many in the space industry expected for the contract to be given to two companies instead of one, however, only SpaceX bagged the deal.
As a result, two companies that were in the running for the contract, Blue Origin and Dynetics, protested NASA’s decision to the Government Accountability Office, which adjudicates bidding disputes. As such due to the complaint, the Human Landing System (or HLS) work was put on hold until the GAO decides on the two protests.
It means that SpaceX won’t immediately receive its first chunk of the $2.9 billion awards, nor will it commence the initial talks with NASA that would normally take place at the onset of a major contract.
“Under the GAO protests, NASA instructed SpaceX that progress on the HLS contract has been suspended until GAO resolves all outstanding litigation related to this procurement.”
When asked about its decision to pick SpaceX alone, NASA had said that it was the best decision it could make at the time with the funds made available from Congress. Last year, Congress gave the agency $850 million of the $3.3 billion it requested to procure two lunar landers.