NASA agreed on Thursday to temporarily halt work on a $2.9 billion (about INR 21,587 crores) lunar landing contract awarded to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, after rival billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin , sued the US government, said an agency spokeswoman.
Blue Origin said its lawsuit, filed in the US Federal Complaints Court last week, was “an attempt to remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA’s Human Landing System.” A US judge scheduled a hearing on the case on October 14th.
NASA said in a statement that it halted work with SpaceX on the human landing system until November 1st.
“In exchange for this temporary stay on the job, all parties have agreed to an expedited litigation schedule that ends Nov. 1,” the US space agency said. “NASA officials are continuing to work with the Department of Justice to review the details of the case and await a timely resolution of this matter.”
The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) last month supported NASA in its decision to choose a single lunar probe supplier, rejecting Blue Origin’s protest.
SpaceX, led by Tesla Musk’s CEO, intervened this week in the process to ensure that the court “has a complete and accurate picture of the facts and circumstances surrounding this protest, including the substantial harm that SpaceX will suffer if the court grants redress. requested “from Blue Origin.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Amazon Bezos founder, said it remains convinced that there were “fundamental issues” in NASA’s decision and that the GAO was unable to resolve them “due to its limited jurisdiction.”
NASA has sought proposals for a spacecraft that would take astronauts to the lunar surface under its Artemis program to return humans to the moon for the first time since 1972.
The space agency said on Thursday that it “is committed to Artemis and to maintaining the country’s global leadership in space exploration. With our partners, we will go to the moon and stay to enable scientific investigations, develop new technologies and create high-paying jobs for the greater good and in preparation for sending astronauts to Mars.”
In April, NASA awarded SpaceX a contract to build this spacecraft as early as 2024.
© Thomson Reuters 2021