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Blue Origin lawsuit could delay a crewed lunar mission, says NASA official


According to reports, NASA administrator Bill Nelson has stated that a lawsuit filed by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin against SpaceX and the United States government may cause the crewed Moon mission to be delayed even further.


In a lawsuit filed against NASA and SpaceX, Blue Origin alleged that the United States space agency had awarded a lucrative $3 billion contract to the Elon Musk-founded SpaceX to construct a lunar rover.


As a result of the lawsuit, Bezos' company claims that NASA's decision to award the contract to SpaceX is in violation of "fundamental tenets" of government contract procurement law.


According to Insider, Mr Nelson stated in a press conference on Tuesday that the lawsuit may cause NASA's plans to put humans on the Moon as part of the Artemis lunar program, which is scheduled to launch in 2024, to be delayed.


According to NASA's plans, four astronauts will be launched from Earth's orbit by the Orion spacecraft on a multi-day journey to lunar orbit, where two of them will transfer to the SpaceX human landing system (HLS) for the final leg of their journey to the Moon's surface.


"After approximately a week of exploring the surface, they will board the lander for their brief return to orbit, where they will rendezvous with Orion and their colleagues before returning to Earth," the United States space agency stated in an April statement.


According to reports, Mr Nelson said on Tuesday that only after a federal court ruling could he determine whether the mission to land humans on the Moon was still on track for a 2024 launch. This appears to be an indication that the lawsuit is expected to cause delays.


Because the lawsuit has not yet been resolved, SpaceX has been unable to proceed with the development of the lander for the mission, and NASA has agreed to halt work on the HLS until the litigation is heard in court, which will take several months.


NASA is being sued by Blue Origin, which claims that the agency disregarded important flight safety requirements when awarding the contract to SpaceX.


A redacted version of the lawsuit, which was made public on Wednesday by the United States Court of Federal Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asserts that NASA's decision was "arbitrary, capricious, and irrational."


In the lawsuit, it is claimed that "NASA inexplicably disregarded key flight safety requirements for only SpaceX," in order to select and award a SpaceX proposal that NASA's evaluation team determined to be "extremely high risk and immensely complex," even before the safety requirements were waived.


Mr Nelson stated on Tuesday that it will only be clear whether or not crewed missions to the lunar surface will take place after a decision is reached by a federal judge and after "further legal possibilities" are taken into consideration.


No matter what happens in the lawsuit, the NASA Office of the Inspector General stated in a report released last month that the space agency's goal of reaching orbit by 2024 is "not feasible."


This is primarily due to the development of next-generation spacesuits for the astronauts, which has been slowed significantly.

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