Space Exploration Update
Sign up for myFT Daily Digest and be the first to learn about space exploration news.
Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin has offered to pay $2 billion in exchange for a contract awarded by NASA to help astronauts land on the moon.
In April, NASA Choose Elon Musk’s SpaceX For this plan, budget constraints were cited. The agency initially stated that it would award contracts to two suppliers to promote competition.
Blue Origin led a consortium of companies called the National Team to bid for this contract, which aims to return Americans to the surface of the moon by 2024. The mission intends to include the journey of the first woman and the first person of color.
However, NASA said that SpaceX “substantially” beat other bidders in terms of cost. The value of the awarded contract was US$ 2.89 billion.
exist A letter Bezos told NASA Administrator Bill Nelson that his company will waive $2 billion in the current and next two government fiscal years and fund a demonstration mission to “get the program back on track immediately.”
Bezos wrote in the letter: “This proposal is not an extension, but a complete and permanent abandonment of these payments.” “This proposal provides time for government funding operations to catch up.”
Bezos’ letter was sent one week after Blue Origin Successfully carried out the first manned flight to the edge of spaceBezos said at a press conference that the company has booked nearly $100 million in ticket sales for future flights. In the same incident, Bezos was criticized for saying that the trip was paid by “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer.”
In Monday’s letter, Bezos reiterated Blue Origin’s complaint that it did not have the opportunity to modify the cost of its bid for the NASA contract, and believed that SpaceX had gained “a multi-year, billion-dollar lead” as a result. “.
Bezos wrote: “NASA should adopt its original competitive strategy, not this single-source approach.”
“Competition will prevent any single source from having an insurmountable influence on NASA. Without competition and the time for contract signing is very short, NASA will find its options are limited because it tries to miss deadlines, design changes, and Negotiate cost overruns.”
A NASA spokesperson did not respond to the letter on Monday. The initial contract award is currently under appeal, and the Government Accountability Office is expected to make a ruling on the decision early next month.
In June, the Senate passed the “Endless Frontier Act,” which included an additional $10 billion in funding for the Human Landing System program, with the clear purpose of increasing competition. Senator Bernie Sanders opposed the clause, calling it a “billion dollar Bezos rescue plan.”