Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos is offering NASA a $2 billion discount on a Moon lander, the biz tycoon has informed the US space agency in an open letter on Monday.
This comes after Blue Origin lost out to SpaceX back in April, on a $2.9 billion contract for a human landing system (HLS) for NASA’s moon mission, which is technically known as the Artemis programme. Following this, it had been joined by Dynetics, another contender in the race, as the two companies filed protests with the US Government Accountability Office.
The Artemis programme has the US-based space administration planning to return to the surface of earth’s natural satellite, by 2024.
The letter has been addressed directly to NASA’s Administrator Bill Nelson, and sees Bezos offering the agency what seems to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, one that, he claims, will “bridge the funding shortfall,” that had resulted in NASA allowing just one company to develop the moon lander, instead of picking two and having them compete against each other.
This move is not really surprising, and is the latest in the former Amazon CEO’s rather desperate efforts to get the decision overruled. In fact, Blue Origin has even taken to lobbying for the United States Senate to add a sum of $10 billion to the human lander system, by passing a bill to the effect. The proposed bill, which had been nicknamed the “Bezos Bailout,” is still under scrutiny at the House.
In his letter, he further adds that since the design of the Blue Origin lander makes use of liquid hydrogen as a fuel, apart from providing for cleaner propulsion, it also has the advantage of being capable of leveraging the ice on the lunar surface, which is in agreement with NASA’s own plans to use substances available on the Moon for refueling rockets involved in solar system operations. Moreover, the firm has also offered to use its own expenses in order to test its lander in orbit around the Earth.
Bezos believes that their offer will help the US space administration “moderate its technical risks”and solve any budget constraints that it has, so that the competition for obtaining the contract for the Artemis programme can be brought back to a more “credible, and sustainable path.”
Still, it remains to be seen whether this offer by Blue Origin to give NASA a $2 billion discount will have a bearing on the end result of the award.