Lunar Lander Update: Senate Directs NASA to Choose Another Company to Build a Lunar Lander

It comes as no surprise to this writer that the squeaking wheel got the grease, yet again, from a special interest-riddled government whose promise is only as good as the dollars that are thrown at it.

Artist’s depiction of astronauts walking on the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program. U.S. Senate appropriators have directed NASA to choose a second company to build its lunar lander for Artemis. Image: NASA

The United States Senate’s largest committee wants NASA to choose a second company to build its new moon lander.

In April of this year, NASA announced that SpaceX alone had won the contract to build the agency’s next moon lander for its Artemis program, which aims to return humans to the moon’s surface by 2024 and create a sustainable human presence on our nearby satellite. This came as a surprise as many expected the agency to choose two of the three companies vying for the contract to keep them competitive and to have a backup built.

After much legal back-and-forth following NASA’s original decision, the Senate Appropriations Committee is directing NASA to now choose a second company to develop a crewed lunar lander, according to SpaceNews. However, this direction came with only a small funding increase. Read more at

The Florida Pilot Sept. 24, 2021: Court Filing Outlines Blue Origin’s Case Against NASA SpaceX Lunar Lander Award

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Blue Origin argues that the failure of SpaceX to include flight readiness reviews for every Starship element launch rendered its proposal deficient and thus “unawardable.” – SpaceX

The lunar lander saga continues. In our previous two articles addressing Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin (“A lead engineer at Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has left to join Elon Musk’s SpaceX” and “Blue Origin lost at least 17 top staffers weeks after SpaceX was awarded the $2.9 billion NASA moon-lander contract, reports say”) we could see the cracks starting to form in Blue Origin. From my perspective, I feel like I’m witnessing the unfolding of a high-dollar, spoiled rich kid bar room brawl. My prediction is that I don’t think anything is going to change regardless of legal battles. SpaceX will be landing their lunar lander on the moon (barring any unforeseen catastrophic systems failures) and Blue Origin will probably still fly paying customers to near-Earth orbit. Space News is reporting on the latest on the clash of the space titans:

“Blue Origin is seeking to overturn NASA’s award of a lunar lander contract to SpaceX by arguing that SpaceX’s proposal failed to meet requirements for reviews that made it “unawardable.”

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims released Sept. 22 a significantly redacted version of Blue Origin’s complaint filed with the court Aug. 13. The complaint is effectively an appeal of the company’s protest of the Human Landing System (HLS) award to SpaceX that the Government Accountability Office rejected July 30.

The core of Blue Origin’s argument is that NASA ignored a requirement that bidders include a flight readiness review (FRR) before the launch of each element of the lander systems. Blue Origin alleges that SpaceX did not include FRRs before each “tanker” Starship launch, carrying propellant that would fuel the lander Starship. NASA, in later negotiations with SpaceX, did require an FRR before each type of Starship launch, but that also failed to meet the requirements of the solicitation, according to Blue Origin.” – read more from Jeff Foust and Space News

An illustration of SpaceX’s Starship on the moon. On April 16, 2021, NASA announced that SpaceX won the contract to build the lunar lander for its Artemis program. – SpaceX

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