After protests from competitors, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has suspended a contract with SpaceX, the company that was chosen to develop and build a lunar lander.
“Pursuant to 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,” Monica Witt, a NASA spokesperson, said in a statement.
Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin was competing for the contract together with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Dynetics. Initially, NASA was expected to select two of the three companies. Blue Origin and Dynetics have filed protests with the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO). The companies do not want only SpaceX to receive the contract to create the module for landing the astronauts on the Moon as part of the Artemis program.
Earlier, the decision in favor of SpaceX was made thanks to its Starship reusable spacecraft, which the company has been testing multiple times recently. This spacecraft is designed to send expeditions to Mars and can fit up to a hundred people. The cost of its completion for the mission on the Moon, as well as the construction of the spacecraft, turned out to be significantly less than that of competitors. Other companies didn't like NASA choosing only one manufacturer, whereas it usually preferred two, contributing to the industry development.