The Government Accountability Office has dismissed protests against NASA’s award of a potential $2.89 billion contract to SpaceX to further develop a human landing system that would transport two astronauts to the surface of the moon as part of the Artemis program.
NASA said Saturday GAO’s decision will enable the space agency and SpaceX to create a timeline for the first manned lunar landing in more than five decades.
NASA awarded the contract to SpaceX under the Appendix H broad agency announcement of the Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships 2 program in mid-April to continue development work on its Starship HLS but the contract was put on hold after Blue Origin and Leidos’ (NYSE: LDOS) Dynetics subsidiary filed protests with GAO.
The space agency said an uncrewed Artemis I flight is on schedule in 2021 and that it expects a manned Artemis II mission to lift off by 2023.
“As soon as possible, NASA will provide an update on the way ahead for Artemis, the human landing system, and humanity’s return to the Moon. We will continue to work with the Biden Administration and Congress to ensure funding for a robust and sustainable approach for the nation’s return to the Moon in a collaborative effort with U.S. commercial partners,” the NASA statement reads.