Following ” decision to award a lunar lander contract to rival SpaceX to the GAO, which quickly dismissed the claims. Blue Origin then sued NASA — literally, sued NASA —”in an attempt to remedy the flaws in the acquisition process found in NASA’s Human Landing System,” a spokesperson for Blue Origin told Engadget in August. The company subsequently lost that suit as well but, hopefully, Thursday’s deal will serve as a balm for Bezos’ critically wounded ego.

Northrop Grumman

The Orbital Reef team hopes to have its first modules in orbit by the end of the decade with further expansions happening throughout the 2030s. But Orbital Reef isn’t the only egg in NASA’s commercial LEO basket. Northrop Grumman announced on Thursday that it too had signed a Space Act Agreement — to the tune of $126 million — to design a “free flying” space station that will be a permanent presence in LEO for at least 15 years.

“Our station will enable a smooth transition from International Space Station-based LEO missions to sustainable commercial-based missions where NASA does not bear all the costs, but serves as one of many customers,” Steve Krein, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of civil and commercial space, said in a statement. The company plans to leverage its existing Cygnus spacecraft, its Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) and its Habitation and Logistics Outpost (HALO), as the basis for the station’s design. 

As part of its agreement with NASA, these development proposals will have to account for every aspect of the station’s “commercialization, operations and capabilities,” according to Northrop Grumman, “as well as space station requirements, mission success criteria, risk assessments, key technical and market analysis requirements, and preliminary design activities.”