NASA, SpaceX pause work on the lunar lander deal due to contract challenges

Dynetics and Blue Origin have both filed protests with the GAO.


Although NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to work on a Starship-based lunar landing system two weeks ago, both companies that lost out on the deal have filed protests with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Now NASA says that while the challenges from Dynetics and Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin are reviewed, SpaceX will have to halt any work it's doing.

NASA spokesperson Monica Witt:

On April 26, NASA was notified that Blue Origin Federation and Dynetics filed protests challenging the Option A human landing system selection with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). 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. NASA cannot provide further comment due to the pending litigation.

As first reported by SpaceNews, as well as Reuters and The Verge, the challenges could extend until August 4th at the latest. While we've already seen Blue Origin's reasons to reconsider the arrangement, SpaceNews posted the Dynetics challenge, which argues against NASA's decision to choose only a single "Option A" winner for the contract, calling it "the most anti-competitive and high risk option available."