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Bezos Offers NASA Billions For Lunar Lander Contract

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Bezos Offers NASA Billions For Lunar Lander Contract

Jeff Bezos may have missed his chance to become the first billionaire to fly to the edge of outer space, but he's now making an effort to rewrite his loss of a Human Landing System (HLS) with an offer to cover more than $2 billion in costs while paying for a demonstration mission.

What Happened: The Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) founder published an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson to secure an HLS contract for his Blue Origin space company like the one awarded to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

During the bidding process for the HLN, SpaceX offered a bid of $2.9 billion, compared to $5.99 billion by a Blue Origin-led “National Team” consisting of four partners and more than 200 small and medium suppliers. A third company, Dynetics, bid $9 billion.

Bezos faulted NASA for giving the award solely to Musk’s company, noting, “Instead of investing in two competing lunar landers as originally intended, the Agency chose to confer a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar head start to SpaceX. That decision broke the mold of NASA’s successful commercial space programs by putting an end to meaningful competition for years to come.”

To sweeten the deal, Bezos offered to waive all payments in the current fiscal year and in the next two.

“This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments,” he wrote. “This offer provides time for government appropriation actions to catch up.”

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What Happens Next: According to a report in Space News, Blue Origin and Dynetics filed protests with the Government Accountability Office regarding the HLS contract to SpaceX. The federal agency has until Aug. 4 to rule on the protests.

As a result of the filed protests, Nelson told a July 21 webinar that the SpaceX contract “is held in abeyance right now as it is contested. We’re expecting an announcement in the next few weeks and, on the basis of that, we will then proceed.”

Separately, NASA awarded SpaceX a $178 million contract to launch a spacecraft to Europea, one of Jupiter's moons. The mission, known as Europa Clipper, will take off in October 2024 and is scheduled to fly past Europa 45 times.

 

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