NASA has agreed to temporarily put the lunar lander project on hold, preventing SpaceX from working on the project at the moment. The space agency is doing this in response to a lawsuit filed by Blue Origin.
Lawsuit documents show that NASA voluntarily agreed to Blue Origin’s request to temporarily suspend its contract with SpaceX while the lawsuit is being heard. The space agency did so on the condition that all parties involved agree to “an accelerated schedule for the lawsuit,” which is due to conclude on November 1, a spokesperson told Reuters news agency. “NASA officials continue to work with the Department of Justice to review the details of the case and look forward to a timely resolution of this matter.” A hearing will be held on October 14.
Earlier this month, Blue Origin sued NASA over the lunar lander contract the space agency provided to SpaceX. Blue Origin argues that NASA was supposed to hand out multiple contracts, and that NASA “acted incorrectly” by awarding a contract only to SpaceX. NASA only handed out a contract for the upcoming moon landing program because the budget for this project was lower than expected.
The US Government Accountability Office rejected a similar request from Blue Origin at the end of July, stating that NASA’s decision to hand out a single contract is not against the law. Due to the complaint to the GAO, SpaceX was also unable to work on the lunar lander project for months at the time. The same is now the case. SpaceX’s lunar lander contract is worth $2.9 billion. Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos previously said he would reimburse NASA’s $2 billion in costs if the organization offered a contract to Blue Origin, The Wall Street Journal also reported.