Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos offered to waive $2 billion in payments to secure his spaceflight company Blue Origin a NASA contract.
Bezos asked NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in an open letter Monday to award Blue Origin a contract to construct a Human Landing System (HLS), a lunar-landing vehicle, as part of the Artemis program, offering to waive up to $2 billion in fees. Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX had been awarded the $2.9 billion contract in April, beating out Blue Origin’s bid, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Artemis program is intended to return human astronauts to the Moon, with a manned mission to Mars planned as well. Though the program was initially planned as a joint contract, it was awarded solely to SpaceX due to budgetary constraints which Bezos’ offer sought to alleviate, according to the letter.
“Blue Origin will bridge the HLS budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2 billion to get the program back on track right now,” Bezos wrote in the letter.
Jeff Bezos became the second billionaire to successfully reach outer space this month when his Blue Origin New Shepard spacecraft exited the atmosphere Tuesday, the latest development in the ongoing space race between Bezos, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson.
Branson was the first billionaire in space last week when he and several crew members aboard his VSS Unity spaceplane successfully flew to an altitude of 53.5 miles. His company Virgin Galactic, founded in 2004, is developing commercial spacecraft to be used in suborbital flights for those seeking a trip to outer space. Musk’s SpaceX, founded in 2002, has been at the forefront of the private space industry for over a decade, with Musk planning a mission to Mars as early as 2024.
Former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and three other passengers successfully launched into space Tuesday aboard the billionaire’s Blue Origin New Shepard spacecraft.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket launches, carrying the company’s first crew and heading toward space.https://t.co/kYI3pmFsLB #BlueOrigin #JeffBezos pic.twitter.com/Xs0TnjpVbE
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) July 20, 2021