NASA Delays SpaceX Lunar Landing to 2025, Blames Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Lawsuit

NASA announced on Tuesday its human lunar mission has been delayed from 2024 to 2025. The major reason? Litigation from Blue Origin, which fought NASA for awarding the lunar contract to SpaceX.

Back in August, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin sued NASA over awarding Elon Musk’s SpaceX a lunar contract to send humans back to the moon. “We firmly believe that the issues identified in this procurement and its outcomes must be addressed to restore fairness, create competition and ensure a safe return to the Moon for America,” said Blue Origin at the time.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has shot back at Bezos ever since, noting the latter sues to stop competition, saying, “you cannot sue your way to the moon.”

Earlier this month, a judge ruled in NASA’s favour over awarding the 2024 contract to SpaceX. Bezos said Blue Origin would not be fighting the decision.

According to Space News, at a November 9 media conference, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the Blue Origin lawsuit was a major factor that pushed back the Human Landing System (HLS), as part of its Artemis 3 mission.

“Because of the litigation for seven months, we have not been allowed to have, under law, any contact with SpaceX” regarding HLS, said Nelson. NASA was only able to talk to SpaceX on November 5 about HLS—one day after a U.S. judge ruled against Blue Origin in its lawsuit.

But Blue Origin’s lawsuit wasn’t the only reason for the delay, said NASA.

“Prior to fiscal year ’22, previous Congresses did not appropriate enough dollars for the Human Landing System,” added Nelson, saying  NASA requested $3.3 billion for HLS in the 2021 budget proposal, but Congress only provided $850 million.

The 2024 HLS goal was set by the Trump administration in March 2019, and likely wasn’t possible, given the technical challenges of the mission.