NASA delays Moon landings, says Blue Origin legal tactics partly to blame

The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission is lifted above the Space Launch System rocket in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.

Enlarge / The Orion spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis I mission is lifted above the Space Launch System rocket in the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center. (credit: NASA)

Senior NASA officials on Tuesday provided an updated timeline for returning humans to the Moon under the agency’s Artemis Program, and they discussed costs and other issues related to it. The biggest news came in the form of NASA’s formal acknowledgement that a human landing on the Moon in 2024 is not possible, but there were plenty of other noteworthy tidbits.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson led the briefing with space reporters, which came five days after the US Court of Federal Claims ruled against Blue Origin’s lawsuit against NASA for its selection of SpaceX to build a lunar lander for the Artemis Program. Previously, Nelson had promised to provide an update on the Artemis Program following the lawsuit, and on Tuesday he made good on that.

He came out guns blazing at Blue Origin. “We’ve lost nearly seven months in litigation and that likely has pushed the first human landing likely to no earlier than 2025,” Nelson said, pinning the delay in NASA’s return to the Moon firmly on Blue Origin and its lawyers. During the legal process, NASA was forbidden from working or even talking with SpaceX regarding the Human Landing System (HLS) program. The agency was also unable to provide milestone payments.

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