Jeff Bezos Tries To Hijack Elon Musk’s Moon Project With New Offer To NASA
Jeff Bezos attempted to take over Elon Musk’s contract to build a moon landing vehicle with an offer to cover NASA’s costs.
NASA originally expected to offer the contract to build a moon landing system to two companies, however when it only received $850 million of the $3.3 billion it requested from Congress it was forced to award it to just one.
In a letter written to NASA’s administrator Bill Nelson last week, Bezos offered to cover $2 billion worth of the space agency’s costs in order to be reconsidered for the contract.
Per BBC News, the Amazon founder wrote:
Blue Origin will bridge the HLS [Human Landing System] budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2bn to get the programme back on track right now.
This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments.
In exchange for being awarded the contract, Bezos said Blue Origin would accept a firm, fixed-priced contract and cover any overruns that come from system development.
The moon landing vehicle is intended to carry astronauts down to the lunar surface as early as 2024, with NASA citing previous orbital missions by SpaceX as a factor in the award when the decision was announced.
Bezos partnered with aerospace giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper to create his craft, named the Blue Moon lander, which bore resemblance to the lunar module that successfully carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the moon’s surface in 1969.
Bezos drew upon his design’s proven heritage to support his argument, writing: ‘We created a 21st Century lunar landing system inspired by the well-characterised Apollo architecture – an architecture with many benefits. One of its important benefits is that it prioritizes safety.’
Furthermore, Bezos suggested that ‘competition’ was needed if NASA wanted to fulfil its aims, writing: ‘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. Without competition, NASA’s short-term and long-term lunar ambitions will be delayed, will ultimately cost more, and won’t serve the national interest.’
When the space agency awarded the contract to Musk in April, Blue Origin said the decision ‘not only delays but also endangers America’s return to the moon’.
In a complaint filed with the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Blue Origin accused NASA of giving SpaceX an unfair advantage by allowing it to revise its pricing, however the GAO has denied the protests.
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