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SpaceX Lunar Lander Work Halted by NASA

According to CNBC, the US space agency NASA has placed Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to construct a lunar spacecraft on hold as it awaits the outcome of rival bidders’ challenges to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO will issue a decision by August 4 at the latest, determining if SpaceX will continue with its lunar lander. For the first time since 1972, the mission intends to return humans to the moon from American soil.

On Friday, the agency said, “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.” It has not, however, been without controversy. On Monday, Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin, a competitor to SpaceX, filed a 50-page complaint with the GAO, claiming, among other things, that his company was not given the opportunity to revise its bid while SpaceX was.

The deal is worth $2.9 billion in total. At the time, Bob Smith, the CEO of Blue Origin, told The New York Times that NASA choice of contractor was faulty. Musk responded with a clever tweet mocking Jeff Bezos. He wrote, “Can’t get it up (to orbit) lol,” referring to Blue Origin’s failure to reach orbit with either of its rockets.

We’re curious, though, what he might tweet now that his plans have been cancelled. Dynetics of Huntsville, Alabama, has also lodged a complaint with the GAO, increasing the chances that NASA contract will be revised. It is, without a doubt, an exciting time for space exploration. These contenders have a chance to make history by becoming the first to return astronauts to the moon from American soil.

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