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NASA pauses SpaceX lunar lander contract amid competitor outcry

Earlier this month, SpaceX signed a contract with NASA’s lunar probe, defeating competitors Blue Origin and Dynetics. Moving on to this week, when Blue Origin filed a challenge with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which soon confirmed that Dynetics is also protesting the newly awarded contract with NASA.

In light of these challenges, NASA discontinued the lunar module contract and told SpaceX to temporarily stop work on it, according to Reuters. The Government Accountability Office is required to comment on the matter by August 4; until that decision comes, SpaceX will not be able to work on the development of the lunar spacecraft.

Blue Origin accused SpaceX of having “monopolistic” control when it comes to space exploration. In addition, Blue Origin’s protest includes an allegation that SpaceX had the opportunity to revise its contract proposal, but Bezos’s company did not, telling Reuters that NASA “moved the beams at the last minute”.

Dynetics was silent on the nature of their complaint. Under the contract, SpaceX will develop the first lunar module for a commercial company to place humans on the moon. The milestone-based contract is valued at $ 2.89 billion and is a key part of NASA’s Artemis mission.

In turn, the Government Accountability Office confirmed that two formal challenges to the contract had been filed and that NASA suspended SpaceX’s work until its decision:

Pursuant to the GAO protests, NASA instructed SpaceX that progress on the HLS (human landing system) contract has been suspended until GAO resolves all outstanding litigation related to this procurement.

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