NASA agrees to pause SpaceX lunar contract until November after Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin files suit

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Starship on the moon
An artist’s rendering shows SpaceX’s Starship rocket ship on the moon. (SpaceX Illustration)

NASA paused its contract with SpaceX to take astronauts back to the moon pending the initial outcome of a lawsuit filed by Blue Origin.

The voluntary stay will expire on Nov. 1, two weeks after oral arguments are set to take place in the case, according to a timeline laid out Thursday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Blue Origin, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ commercial space venture, filed the complaint against the U.S. government over NASA’s decision to award a $2.9 billion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build what would be the first lunar lander to carry astronauts to the moon since the Apollo era.

The decision was previously the subject of a Blue Origin protest, which was denied by the Government Accountability Office on July 30.

Blue Origin filed its lawsuit under seal, but the company’s previous bid protest disputed NASA’s decision to award a single contract.

NASA originally had hoped to fund two of the three teams to continue work on their human landing systems, which would have provided a backup option. Agency officials cited congressional budget limits as one reason for making only one award.