WASHINGTON – One of the three companies that NASA selected less than two months ago to carry payloads to the Moon has told the agency it can not carry out this mission and has signed its contract for nearly $ 100 million -Dollar terminated.
NASA announced on July 29 that OrbitBeyond had informed the agency that "internal business challenges" would prevent it from completing an order that NASA will provide to the company on May 31 as part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Service (CLPS). Program. The company requested the release of this agreement and NASA agreed.
NASA did not discuss specific issues that caused OrbitBeyond to cancel its contract with NASA and did not immediately respond to a request for comment. At the event on May 31
OrbitBeyond, along with two other companies, Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines, received CLPS assignment orders. OrbitBeyond had first planned to launch its Z-01 lander on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in September 2020. The other companies plan 2021 landings in a facility in Florida. However, the company was scrutinized as it used a technology developed by TeamIndus of India, a former competitor to the Google Lunar X award.
"While this partnership seems to be in line with NASA's request, the optics are obviously not good," said MP Brian Babin (R-Texas) during a hearing on the House Science Committee Space Subcommittee on June 11. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's Deputy Administrator for Science, responded that the Agency would subject all companies that received CLPS awards to a "full review" to ensure that they comply with a treaty stipulating that countries should be included in the USA to be built.
OrbitBeyond received an order for $ 97 million for its landering mission, the largest of the three contracts awarded by NASA in May. This mission was to carry up to four payloads, but NASA had not assigned a specific payload to each Lander mission at this time. A NASA spokesman did not immediately answer questions about how much money the company had received prior to the termination of the award.
OrbitBeyond was one of nine companies that NASA selected for the CLPS program last November. According to industry representatives, the company will be able to compete for orders expected to be completed in late summer or early fall.
NASA representatives, such as bookmakers, had emphasized this since the beginning of the program, because it involved risks in the program. He emphasized the desire to make "shots", with the expectation that not every shot in the goal or mission would make a successful landing, even though this focus was more on technical than financial risks.
"We know that CLPS missions are challenging for a variety of reasons and may not always be successful," said Zurbuchen in the NASA statement. "We are ready to take some risk to quickly return to the moon with commercial partners and to undertake exciting scientific and technological developments with a wide range of applications."
NASA also plans an "on-ramp" for the CLPS Add New Business Program. The plans, announced in a June 20 presolicitation notice, focus on "medium-sized" landers capable of delivering 350 to 1,000 kilograms of payload to the lunar surface. The Agency updated this Notice on 29 July with a series of questions and answers, but has not yet issued a formal call for proposals.