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NASA Delays Work on Elon Musk's SpaceX Lunar Landing System

NASA halts work on Tesla founder Elon Musk's SpaceX lunar landing system to allow a lawsuit filed by Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin to conclude by Nov. 1.

NASA has temporarily halted work on a $2.9 billion human lunar landing system, which it contracted with Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Free Report founder Elon Musk's SpaceX, until Nov. 1 to allow a lawsuit filed against the space agency by Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Free Report founder Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin to run its course.

"In exchange for this temporary stay of work, all parties agreed to an expedited litigation schedule that concludes on Nov. 1. NASA officials are continuing to work with the Department of Justice to review the details of the case and look forward to a timely resolution of this matter," NASA said in a Thursday statement, Reuters reported.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Oct. 14.

A NASA spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

Bezos's space company filed its lawsuit against NASA on Aug. 13 in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, challenging an alleged unlawful and improper evaluation of its proposal for a human landing system program.

Blue Origin filed the suit in response to the U.S. Government Accountability Office's July 30 denial of a protest by the company and Dynetics Inc. of NASA's award to SpaceX of a $2.9 billion contract for a human lunar landing system.

Blue Origin on Monday won a protective order in the Court of Federal Claims sealing documents in its lawsuit against NASA. It requested the protective order to protect confidential, proprietary and source selection information contained in its complaint, as well as other filings and hearing transcripts in its bid protest.

Blue Origin and Huntsville, Ala., Dynetics on April 26 filed a protest with the GAO after NASA awarded SpaceX the contract, asserting that NASA was required to make multiple awards consistent with its broad agency announcement that stated a preference for multiple awards. 

The companies said that NASA was required to open discussions, amend or cancel its broad agency announcement when it determined it had inadequate funding to support multiple awards.

The GAO, however, concluded NASA did not violate procurement law or regulation when it decided to make only one award. It said NASA's announcement stated that the number of awards was subject to the amount of funding available for the program. NASA reserved the right to make multiple awards, a single award or no award at all, the decision said.

Blue Origin, a space-tourism company founded by Bezos, completed a test flight on July 20 with a crew including Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, aerospace pioneer Mary Wallace Funk and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.

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