NASA’s return to the moon is facing further delays due to Blue Origin’s recent lawsuit against the space agency. After it was revealed earlier this week that Jeff Bezos was suing rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX for his lunar lander contract instead of his own Blue Origin, NASA has agreed to temporarily suspend any work on the lander until November 1. U.S. courts investigate federal claims. A judge has set October 14 as the date for the hearing, meaning SpaceX works on the human lander system that will take astronauts to the moon’s surface as part of the Artemis mission.
NASA has already faced a delay in the date of the proposed 2024 mission due to the unpreparedness of the new spacesuit; the billionaire space race has taken a forbidden turn and is now being derailed for legal reasons. “NASA has voluntarily entered into an agreement with SpaceX to replace the Human Landing System (HLS) with an agreement from August 19 to November 1. In return for this temporary position of work, all parties have agreed on a timetable for a speedy trial ending November 1,” NASA said in a statement to SpaceNews.
“NASA officials are continuing to work with the judiciary to review the details of the case and await a timely resolution of the matter.” Earlier this month, Bezos challenged NASA’s decision to choose only one company to award the contract for the lander to the U.S. government’s Accountability Office, Cheap SpaceX, saying it was basically two companies instead.
When NASA chose SpaceX’s $2.89 billion offers instead of Blue Origin’s $ 5.99 billion pitch, Bezos accused NASA of giving SpaceX an unfair advantage by giving him the opportunity to revise his price after a change in NASA’s budget. Production of the landing vehicle has been halted since April after Bezos filed its first formal complaint. NASA’s decision to work with commercial partners was to reduce budget and time and increase sustainability in the production of important technologies to bring people back to the moon. Now the irony is that NASA’s plan to return to the moon is being delayed at every step.