The US Senate is currently in the midst of debating whether or not they should be providing a fund of $10 billion to Jeff Bezos-led Blue Origin, for aiding the development of lunar landing systems by NASA. As with every debate, this one too, has people both for and against it.
To Fund or Not to Fund
On the pro-side for the move, dubbed “Bezos Bailout” is Senator Maria Cantwell, who is proposing an amendment to the Endless Frotier Act (which was put in place to fund advanced technological research). Her amendment calls for including Blue Origins, along with its partners, in the lineup for receiving funds worth billions of dollars from NASA, for the project. If approved, this could mean that Blue Origin would be receiving funds worth more than $10 billion, for the lunar landing system and other infrastructure.
On the other hand we have Senator Bernie Sanders, who also has his own version of the amendment ready. He is calling for aborting the plan to invest billions of dollars in the Bezos Bailout. In fact, he has actually proposed removing the very provision of human landing systems from the original bill. The reason for the opposition to Cantwell’s bill is the sole fact that Bezos himself is the world’s 2nd richest man, and Sen. Sanders doesn’t deem it fit to provide the fund to him.
Lost out to SpaceX
This comes after Blue Origin lost out to Elon Musk-led space agency, SpaceX, for a $2.9 billion funding from NASA. Under the contract, SpaceX is set to develop a moon lander through its Starship line, which will ferry astronauts towards the natural satellite, in order to support NASA’s Artemis mission, around 2024.
The original plan was to choose two of the most economically sound proposals from the companies competing, but since the Senate didn’t have adequate funds, NASA had to choose SpaceX, which was the least expensive plan.
In response to the Space Agency’s move, Blue Origin (as well as the team at Dynetics, the other potential company) had filed protests with the Government Accountability Office, saying that their proposals weren’t given their due consideration.
As such, the Office has given the Senate until August 4, to decide whether or not to redo the competition.