Founder and CEO of Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos, has offered up to $2 billion to NASA for the opportunity to take astronauts to the lunar surface. The space mission will include the construction of a Human Landing System and the flying of astronauts to the moon over a two-year period.
The proposed contract will exempt NASA from any costs and Blue Origin will complete and deploy the aircraft in record time.
Bezos Says His $2b Offer Will Make Blue Origin a Suitable Space Partner
For context, NASA had earlier awarded a $2.9 billion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX in April to construct the Human Landing System. But NASA suspended the contract in May when Blue Origin filed a complaint, challenging the fact that the SpaceX contract was not shared with another space company.
As if to demonstrate his satisfaction that NASA suspended the SpaceX contract following his appeal, Jeff Bezos went ahead to offer NASA up to $2 billion to have a modified space contract awarded to his company.
And to register his displeasure with NASA management over the earlier contract with SpaceX, Bezos wrote to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, charging that the contract could have been awarded to several space companies. This he said would provide NASA with various options for its lunar missions, and possibly for its Artemis program.
Blue Origin Wants to Help NASA Reposition Its Artemis Program
NASA’s Artemis program is an initiative to land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon by 2024 using commercial carriers.
“In April (prior to your confirmation as NASA administrator), only one HLS bidder, SpaceX, was offered the opportunity to revise their price and funding profile, leading to their selection,” Bezos wrote. “Blue Origin was not offered the same opportunity. That was a mistake, it was unusual, and it was a missed opportunity. But it is not too late to remedy. We stand ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and solve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Program back on a more competitive, credible, and sustainable path.”
According to Bezos, NASA should consider Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Dynetics as prospective awardees for the Human Landing System instead of a single winner. He said this would make the bidding and award initiative competitive and more rewarding for the federal space agency.
Blue Origin’s $2 billion contract proposal to NASA could make space travel cheaper and more competitive, but can it expedite commercial space tourism for potential lunar tourists?