NASA decided to choose another developer of the lunar lander for the Artemis mission and it became Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin. Now SpaceX and Blue Origin will compete for which one of them is better, more comfortable, safer, and cheaper to deliver astronauts to the moon.
After NASA selected SpaceX as the sole developer of the lunar lander in April 2021, Blue Origin and Dynetics, which also participated in the competition, filed a protest against the agency’s actions. The US Comptroller’s Office dismissed the complaint, but Blue Origin filed suit in the US Court of Claims. That lawsuit suspended funding for SpaceX but was also ultimately dismissed and sparked a flurry of criticism of Blue Origin and Bezos.
But, despite this background, and the fact that Blue Origin’s proposal is almost twice as expensive as SpaceX’s, NASA still decided to choose the company as the second developer of the landing module. Perhaps because the Starship, on the basis of which the lunar lander Starship HLS will be created, still won’t fly.
On the other hand, the Blue Origin HLS, known as the Integrated Lander Vehicle or Blue Moon, which is being developed by the National Team consortium consisting of Blue Origin, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper Laboratory (five major companies against one SpaceX!) is also not yet finished. In addition, it is much smaller than the Starship HLS and will be able to deliver only 20 tons of payload to the Moon.
As part of the new contract, SpaceX must demonstrate the capabilities of the Starship HLS during the Artemis 3 mission, which is currently scheduled for December 2025, and during the Artemis 4 mission (September 2028). And Blue Origin will test its Blue Origin HLS during the Artemis 5 mission, which is scheduled, again for now, for September 2029.