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NASA says Artemis Plans Decision Pending

Before providing more details on plans to return humans to the moon, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told a House committee on June 23 that the agency is awaiting a ruling from the Government Accountability Office on protests of the agency’s lunar lander contract. Nelson stated in testimony before the House Science Committee that those preparations will be contingent on the GAO upholding Blue Origin and Dynetics’ challenges of NASA’s award of a single Human Landing System (HLS) contract to SpaceX in April.

The GAO has until August 4 to decide on the two petitions. Nelson testified at the hearing that he had been discussing several possibilities with Pam Melroy, NASA‘s deputy administrator who assumed office on June 21, and Bob Cabana, the longstanding Kennedy Space Center director who became an associate administrator in May, depending on the outcome of the GAO protests.

Nelson said, “The three of us are already trying to make the plans so that, when the GAO decides, we can move out quickly depending on what the GAO decides as a legal matter.” During the roughly three-hour session, he stated that he expected the GAO to make that determination on August 4, even though agency officials have previously stated that decisions on the HLS objections might come at any time up until the August 4 deadline.

Nelson did not detail the agency’s choices, including what it would do if the GAO upheld one or both of the protests. However, he did say that the government will make those plans public soon after the GAO rulings.

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