SpaceX’s Elon Musk admits: We will ‘probably smash a bunch’ of rockets trying to land humans on moon
Two major space and defense companies have filed formal objections to SpaceX being solely awarded a contract by NASA to continue development of the Human Landing System (HLS) that will eventually land the next man and the first woman on the moon through the Artemis program.
The agency last year selected three prime contractors to design a HLS: Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX.
Dynetics, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Leidos, is headquartered in Huntsville, and Blue Origin’s work on the program is also being centered in the Rocket City. Of course, Marshall Space Flight Center manages the HLS program for NASA, so the program is about as Huntsville-centric as it gets.
It was widely expected that NASA would select two of the three contractors to advance in the competition in order to ensure the program stays on schedule; however, the agency decided to award SpaceX the only contract for the next phase, effectively ending the competition.
Axios on Tuesday confirmed that many in and around the industry are “questioning NASA’s decision to only select SpaceX for its human lander, saying the space agency is putting all of its eggs in one basket and landing on the Moon is no easy feat, particularly for a company that has never done it before.”
The outlet outlined, “Awarding contracts to two different providers doesn’t just maintain competition; it also allows for redundancy, which could be key as technical snags always come up when building a new system.”
Now, comments made by SpaceX founder Elon Musk are potentially exacerbating the questions surrounding the sole HLS award.
As reported by Axios, Musk stated, “We’re going to build a lot of rockets and probably smash a bunch of them.”
The HLS program, of course, is funded by the American taxpayer. And ultimately, those rockets will be ferrying human crews to the moon — meaning the safety of any rockets or landers utilized is absolutely paramount.
With that zero room for error in mind, Blue Origin and Dynetics have both filed protests with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
“NASA has executed a flawed acquisition for the Human Landing System program and moved the goalposts at the last minute,” Blue Origin said in a statement. “In NASA’s own words, it has made a ‘high risk’ selection. Their decision eliminates opportunities for competition, significantly narrows the supply base, and not only delays, but also endangers America’s return to the Moon. Because of that, we’ve filed a protest with the GAO.”
SpaceX, in a stark contrast to the preponderance of the American aerospace and defense industry, does not have a presence in Alabama.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn