A discount of at least $2 billion is being offered by Jeff Bezos to NASA for its lucrative human lunar landing system contract that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has already won earlier this year. This latest bid by Bezos represents the latest step in a series of efforts for Blue Origin to win the contract from NASA.
In an open letter, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos offered on Tuesday that he would waive up to $2 billion in contract payments if NASA brings Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lunar lander in its Human Landing System program. The program aims to launch the first human-crewed mission to the moon.
In the current and next two government fiscal years, Bezos said Blue Origin would provide an exemption from payments up to $2 billion from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Bezos also announced that Blue Origin would pay for its own mission to low-Earth orbit. The government agency asked for a fixed-price contract in return from the company.
The letter states,
“Blue Origin will, at its own cost, contribute the development and launch of a pathfinder mission to low-Earth orbit of the lunar descent element to further retire development and schedule risks. This pathfinder mission is offered in addition to the baseline plan of performing a precursor uncrewed landing mission prior to risking any astronauts to the Moon. This contribution to the program is above and beyond the over $1B of corporate contribution cited in our Option A proposal that funds items such as our privately developed BE-7 lunar lander engine and indefinite storage of liquid hydrogen in space. All of these contributions are in addition to the $2B waiver of payments referenced above.”
Previously, Blue Origin filed a formal protest of NASA’s award to SpaceX this spring, and the government auditor is due to rule on yet. As a result, SpaceX was ordered to stop working on Government’s project.
NASA announced it would choose SpaceX’s aircraft for its trip to the Moon in 2024, turning down other proposals from Blue Origin and another firm, Dynetics. NASA says it only had enough funds from Congress to choose one contractor from the other companies, but the human lunar landing competition has still not stopped.
Earlier this month, Blue Origin founder Bezos flew into space aboard a new crewed rocket that Blue Origin designed and build. Currently, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are two major private space companies planning on launching tourists to the edge of space. Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which also recently completed a crewed flight, has historically sold seats on its flights between $200,000 and $250,000 per ticket.
According to Bezos, Blue Origin has sold tickets for future flights to space worth nearly $100 million. In addition, the company is reworking its rocket boosters to fly more often.