The US space agency has halted work on the $2.9 billion lunar lander contract awarded to Elon Musk's SpaceX, despite objections from Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.
Blue Origin filed a complaint with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) against NASA for awarding SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to land astronauts on the Moon by 2024.
The US space agency was supposed to choose between two lunar lander designs (one of which was Blue Origin's), but Congress cut funding, forcing the agency to choose SpaceX over Blue Origin.
According to The Verge, NASA spokeswoman Monica Witt said in a statement, "Pursuant to the GAO protests, NASA instructed SpaceX that progress on the HLS contract has been halted until GAO settles all pending litigation related to this procurement."
Dynetics, the third company in the chase, also complained to the GAO, which adjudicates bidding conflicts, about NASA's decision.
The award to SpaceX was a critical "first step" in a larger plan to secure transportation to the Moon.
Blue Origin accused NASA of misjudging several parts of its proposal for the Blue Moon lunar lander in a 185-page protest.
In a statement, Blue Origin said, "NASA carried out a faulty procurement for the Human Landing System programme and changed the goalposts at the last minute."
NASA's decision has been dubbed "The decision "eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also jeopardises America's return to the Moon," according to the company. As a result, we've filed a complaint with the GAO "..
"Can't get it up (to orbit) lol," Musk tweeted in response to Blue Origin's protest.
The contract is part of NASA's Artemis initiative, which seeks to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024 as a prelude to the first human mission to Mars.
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