Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on Monday said his company will cover billions in costs if NASA will award it a contract to build a system to land astronauts on the moon.
In a letter dated Monday to NASA administrator Bill Nelson, Bezos said Blue Origin would waive up to $2 billion in payments in the first couple years of the contract.
He also said the company would pay for a demonstration mission to low-Earth orbit if the agency were to award the company a fixed-price Human Landing System contract — like the one SpaceX was awarded in April.
“We stand ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and solve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Program back on a more competitive, credible, and sustainable path,” Bezos wrote in the letter.
“This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments. This offer provides time for government appropriation actions to catch up,” he added.
The letter is Blue Origin’s latest bid to get NASA to award two Human Lander System contracts, which the agency had originally suggested it would do. Blue Origin, SpaceX and Dynetics, a subsidiary of Leidos, had all bid on the contract.
But in an April surprise, NASA awarded a single $2.89 billion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX tasking the company with building the next crewed lunar lander.
Blue Origin quickly filed a formal complaint arguing that they were not given a chance to revise their price during the competition, unlike SpaceX. Bezos reiterated this point on Monday.
“That was a mistake, it was unusual, and it was a missed opportunity,” he said. “NASA veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and this offer removes that obstacle.”
NASA administrators have repeatedly said they didn’t have the funding necessary to continue negotiating prices with Blue Origin or Dynetics. The agency has repeatedly lobbied Congress for more funding, though it’s unclear if any more is coming.
“Instead of this single-source approach, NASA should embrace its original strategy of competition,” Bezos added.
“Without competition, a short time into the contract, NASA will find itself with limited options as it attempts to negotiate missed deadlines, design changes, and cost overruns.”
The Human Landing System is seen as a key part of NASA’s plan to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024. About a year ago, the space agency awarded nearly $1 billion to fund research and development of prototypes by the three bidders for the final contract.
Representatives for SpaceX did not immediately return noti.group’s request for comment.
Credit: Notigroup Newsroom.
[This article may have been written with information from various sources]