SpaceX no longer holds NASA‘s $2.9 billion lunar landing contract. Blue Origin wasn’t the only one upset with NASA awarding the HLS (human landing system) contract to SpaceX. Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) supplier Dynetics also officially protested to move.
Protestors expected contract to be shared between two companies. This culminated in the company protesting to GAO ( Government Accountability Office) governing bidding disputes.
SpaceX has been working closely with NASA experts during the HLS base period of performance to inform its lander design and ensure it meets NASA’s performance requirements and human spaceflight standards. A key tenet for safety systems, these agreed-upon standards range from areas of engineering, safety, health, and medical technology areas.
SpaceX’s HLS Starship, designed to land on the Moon, leans on the company’s tested Raptor engines and flight heritage of the Falcon and Dragon vehicles. Starship includes a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moonwalks. The Starship architecture is intended to evolve to a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars, and other destinations.
Putting the Human Landing System work on hold until the GAO makes a decision on the two protests means SpaceX won’t immediately receive its first chunk of the $2.9 billion award, nor will it commence the initial talks with NASA that would normally take place at the onset of a major contract.
SpaceX’s award was a key “first step” in a broader program to secure transportation to the Moon, NASA’s human spaceflight chief Kathy Lueders said at the time, promising that new contract opportunities will open up in the near future.
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