The lawsuit filed by Dynetics and Blue Origins, NASA suspended the tender for a trip to the moon, which it gave to Elon Musk last month. One of the companies participating in the tender, Blue Origins belongs to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and the richest boss in the world.
“NASA has instructed SpaceX to suspend progress in the HLS (Human Landing System) tender until the GAO (US Government Accountability Office) has resolved all unresolved cases related to this acquisition,” NASA Spokesperson Monica Witt said on Friday.
For the Artemis program, NASA was planning to land the first woman and “first person of color” on the Moon.
The decision came just two weeks after NASA announced that SpaceX would receive a “fixed price, milestone-based contract” with a bid value of $ 2.89 billion. In April 2020, NASA signed a $ 135 million 10-month contract with SpaceX, while awarding $ 579 million to Blue Origins and $ 253 million to Dynetics for further design work on off-road vehicles.
As Space News reported, Dynetics, a subsidiary of Alabama-based arms dealer Leidos, which stood out with large tenders from the Pentagon, complained that NASA ignored the fact that four spacecraft “exploded in various stages of test flights in recent months”.
Dynetics said in a complaint Monday to the Office of Government Accountability that when it became clear that the US Congress would only deliver 25 percent of the $ 3.3 billion claimed for fiscal year 2021, NASA should either change its demands or ask bidders to revise their bids.
Blue Origins appealed the decision Monday, arguing that there were “errors” in the process that “need to be addressed and corrected. The Artemis project was launched by the Trump administration in 2017 with the aim of landing on the moon by 2024.
This timeline went further as the U.S. Congress refused to fully fund the project, one of the Trump-era initiatives.
2.89 billion dollar tender from NASA to Elon Musk
SpaceX, the company of Elon Musk, one of the richest bosses in the world, received a $ 2.89 billion tender from the US space agency NASA to build a spacecraft that will send an astronaut to the lunar surface in 2024.
Kathy Lueders, deputy director of the Human Discovery and Operations Mission Directorate of the US space agency that announced the tender, referring to the fact that one of the astronauts to be sent to the Moon is a woman, “With this tender, NASA and our partners take a step forward for women’s equality and long-term deep space exploration. “They will complete the first crewed mission to the surface of the Moon in the 21st century,” he said.
In 2024, NASA plans to send two US astronauts to the Moon with the claim “to explore the lunar surface more than ever”. “We put humanity on the path of sustainable lunar exploration and set our sights on missions farther into the solar system, including Mars,” Lueders said.
Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest boss, who collaborated with weapons companies Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, also participated in the tender, but could not get it.
Elon Musk to earn another $ 168.5 million from arms trade
SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, won the tender for heat shields for the US Air Force’s missiles. A $ 8.5 million contract was signed in December 2020 in a tender that was carried out on the Pentagon’s initiative and included “many companies”, but the information about the tender has just been released to the public.
Within the scope of the tender titled “Multi-purpose thermal protection systems for hypersonics”, a contract worth $ 8.5 million was signed between the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and SpaceX in December 2020. However, the information was not made public until the end of February this year. “The aim is to improve the production technology of thermal protection systems to enable low-cost mass production of such next-generation devices,” said the tender announcement.
These “heat shields” are important to protect against overheating and increased thermal resistance of the missile body during reaching hypersonic speeds.
In addition, this time in a public tender, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday that Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX has signed two contracts worth more than $ 159 million.
The US Department of Defense said in a statement that according to the agreements, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets will perform two separate missions. The Pentagon said the two Falcon 9 contracts had reached $ 159.7 million and are expected to be completed by the end of 2023. However, the costs of the launches have not been disclosed.
The launches will take place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, while the Pentagon added that another launch provider, United Launch Alliance, also won two Pentagon tenders for $ 224.2 million on Tuesday.
ULA, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, will also provide Vulcan Centaur rockets for launch services. ULA launches are also planned before the end of 2023.
SpaceX had previously won Pentagon tenders. In October, the company won a $ 149 million tender to build missile tracking satellites, and in July it won 40 percent of tenders to launch new rockets for the Space Force with the US military. The other 60 percent was taken by ULA.