Moonwatch: Nasa resumes work on lunar lander

Nasa has resumed work on the lunar lander needed to return humans to the moon. The space agency voluntarily paused work on the Human Landing System (HLS) for several months after a lawsuit over the spacecraft’s development and manufacture.

In April, Nasa awarded the $2.9bn HLS contract solely to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin company also bid for the work, sued Nasa in August because the space agency had originally stated it would award two lander contracts. Budget shortfall, however, forced it to renege on this.

Earlier this month, a judge dismissed Blue Origin’s claim and upheld the Nasa decision, and so the agency has gone back to work. At a press conference on 9 November, Nasa’s chief, Bill Nelson, said human landings would not now be possible until 2025 at the earliest. Under the Trump administration, the date set was 2024.

The SpaceX HLS, based on its Starship design, is only contracted up to this landing. Nasa is running a new competition for a “sustainable” HLS that could be used for 10 or more further crewed landings. $146m was awarded in September to five companies, including Blue Origin, to study these future landers.


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