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The Moon as seen from the Apollo 8 capsule. Photo: NASA/JSC

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin has lost its lawsuit against NASA over the space agency's decision to not award the private space company a contract to build a lander to bring astronauts back to the Moon's surface.

Why it matters: The ruling deals a blow to Blue Origin's attempt to get back in the running to build a lander for NASA after the agency selected SpaceX as the sole winner of a $2.9 billion contract.

  • The lander is expected to be a critical part of NASA's goal of landing people back on the Moon's surface in 2024 with its Artemis program.

Driving the news: Federal claims court Judge Richard Hertling issued a short ruling Thursday, with plans to eventually make a version of the opinion public after the parties involved make redactions by Nov. 18.

Context: Before SpaceX was awarded the contract in April, it was thought that NASA would actually award at least two companies contracts to continue developing human landers for Artemis.

  • The agency ended up with just one awardee, however, due to lack of funding.
  • Blue Origin asked for $5.9 billion to develop its lunar lander.

Between the lines: NASA and SpaceX had to stall work on the human lander while the Blue Origin lawsuit was being worked out.

  • Now the agency and Elon Musk-founded company plan to start up work again "as soon as possible," according to a NASA statement.
  • The delay already could have a meaningful impact on whether NASA can get back to the Moon by 2024, experts have said.

What they're saying: "Not the decision we wanted, but we respect the court’s judgment, and wish full success for NASA and SpaceX on the contract," Bezos tweeted.

  • "There will be forthcoming opportunities for companies to partner with NASA in establishing a long-term human presence at the Moon under the agency’s Artemis program, including a call in 2022 to U.S. industry for recurring crewed lunar landing services," the agency said in the statement.
  • SpaceX has not yet released an official statement, though Musk did tweet a meme using an image from the movie "Judge Dredd" saying "you have been judged" in response to CNBC reporter Michael Sheetz's tweet about the ruling.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Updated Nov 24, 2021 - Science

NASA probe launches on mission to redirect an asteroid

Photo: NASA

A NASA spacecraft called DART has launched on a journey to change the orbit of an asteroid in deep space.

Why it matters: The mission is designed to test technology that could one day be used to change the course of a dangerous asteroid if one is ever found on a collision course with Earth.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

3 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.