This is Jeff Bezos’s last-minute plea to NASA.
Jeff Bezos wants the Human Landing System contract to be awarded to Blue Origin. As his last-minute plea to NASA, he’s offering to assist the agency to cover more than $2 billion in costs.
NASA Awarded Billion Contract to SpaceX
In April, NASA announced that it has awarded a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX to build the craft that will transport US astronauts to the lunar surface for the first time in decades.
Elon Musk’s space exploration company offered reusable Starship spacecraft to deliver humans to the lunar surface. He has defeated Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origins.
Artemis is the name of the mission to return astronauts to the moon. It was championed by former President Donald Trump. The mission will allow astronauts to access the lunar surface and prepare NASA to land on Mars.
The former NASA chief said that reaching the moon by 2024 would depend on funding. Unfortunately, the funding fell at $325 million this year.
NASA is sanguine about sending astronauts to the moon in 2024. This mission will make history as it includes the first female and first person of color to be among the astronauts to go to the moon.
Bezos wrote an open letter on Monday to NASA administrator Bill Nelson that he’s waiving up to $2 billion in contract payments for the first two years if the agency would add Blue Origins to the mission.
He also said that his company would self-fund a test launch to low-Earth orbit. This is a feat as it’s worth millions of dollars.
“Blue Origin will bridge the HLS budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2B to get the program back on track right now. 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.” – Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos’ request comes a week before the agency will rule on a protest of NASA’s awarding the contract to SpaceX. The Amazon founder said that all NASA must do is to take the offer and modify the contract.
A representative from NASA said that the agency is aware of the letter. However, the agency hasn’t provided a formal comment yet.
However, amending the contract will not be that easy. Although the offer is generous, it might not work out the way Bezos’ company has envisioned.
When NASA announced that the contract was awarded to SpaceX, it stated that choosing a single contractor is the best way to go because of limited funds from Congress.
Bringing on more contractors was the plan. However, it’s not likely that NASA will change its mind about the award. If it does tweak its decision, it might trigger more legal problems.
The $2 billion offer of Bezos would bridge the funding shortfall so the program can get back on track immediately. The deadline for the ruling will be on August 2. It could be that NASA would restart the award program or dismiss Blue Origin’s protest.