Earlier in April, NASA gave Elon Musk’s SpaceX a massive contract of $2.9 Billion that aims to develop spacecraft to put humans back on the moon for the first time since 1972.
This has been done because of the protest by the other two bidders, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and defence contractor Dynetics. The contract was expected to go to two companies but NASA decided to go with one.
SpaceX’s Starship, a fully reusable rocket system currently under development, would ferry humans and cargo to Moon and Mars. They won NASA’s contract mainly based on the massive cargo capacity and a substantially lower bid of $2.9 Billion compared to bids by Blue Origin and Dynetics.
The two companies have protested against NASA’s decision to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Blue origin stated that NASA “unfairly moved goalposts at the last minute” and endangered NASA’s 2024 timeline by going only with SpaceX.
In light of this, NASA has put the Human Landing System work on hold until the GAO makes a decision. This means that all work at SpaceX regarding the contract has to come to a halt. This however does not mean that SpaceX cannot continue working on the Starship privately.
The company has already been testing and has launched several high and low altitude prototypes in test flights at its Boca Chica, Texas, launch facilities. The prototypes have been facing major challenges in the landing phase of the high latitude prototypes. All of the high altitude prototypes have been destroyed in landing phase explosions.
NASA stated that picking one company was the best decision it could make at the time with the funds made available by Congress for the procurement of two lunar landers.