Jeff Bezos offers Nasa a $2 billion discount for Blue Origin Moon lander

Amazon founder says the offer would cover the ‘funding shortfall’ that led to Nasa picking SpaceX for the Moon lander contract

Blue Origin owner Jeff Bezos wrote an open letter to Nasa on Monday offering a $2 billion discount to allow his company to build a Moon lander.

The human landing system contract, worth $2.9 billion, was awarded to rival private space company SpaceX in April.

But Blue Origin and a third company, Dynetics, filed protests which are awaiting adjudication by the US Government Accountability Office.

The US plans to return to the Moon by 2024 under the Artemis programme and to use the lessons learnt to prepare for a crewed Mars mission in the 2030s.

In his letter to Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson, Mr Bezos said the offer would “bridge the funding shortfall” that led the space agency to choose only one contractor, instead of two that would then compete with each other.

“This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright permanent waiver,” he said.

Since losing the award, Blue Origin has been lobbying to have the decision reversed, leading the Senate to pass a bill agreeing to add $10 billion to the human lander system.

But the legislation is still being debated in the House and has been branded a “Bezos Bailout” by critics.

Mr Bezos wrote that an advantage of Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander was its use of liquid hydrogen for fuel, which can be mined from lunar ice in line with Nasa’s plans to use the Moon to refuel rockets for operations deeper into the solar system.

He said the company would test its lander in orbit around the Earth at its own expense.

“We stand ready to help Nasa moderate its technical risks and solve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Programme back on a more competitive, credible and sustainable path,” Mr Bezos said.

Updated: July 27th 2021, 6:31 PM
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