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Jeff Bezos offers NASA $2 billion for lunar landing contract

2021-07-27 16:54 by
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Jeff Bezos published an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on Monday morning and offered to pay more than $2 billion to take part in the agency's Artemis Program. In effect, the founder of Blue Origin and world's richest person says he will self-invest in a lunar lander because NASA does not have the money to do so.

NASA in April awarded rival billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2024, rejecting bids from Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics. Blue Origin had partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Draper in the bid.

"Instead of this single source approach, NASA should embrace its original strategy of competition," Bezos said. "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 plea comes a week before the watchdog Government Accountability Office is due to rule on a formal protest of NASA's award to SpaceX that Blue Origin filed this spring. "All NASA needs to do is take advantage of this offer and amend" the contract, Bezos said. A NASA spokesperson said the agency was aware of Bezos' letter but declined to comment further "in order to maintain the integrity of the ongoing procurement process and GAO's adjudication of this matter."

NASA describes the Artemis Program as "the twin sister to Apollo" devoted to "using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before" and collaborating with other organizations to "establish sustainable exploration for the first time."

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