NASA has expanded its partnership with Blue Origin, the private space exploration company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
The space agency has awarded a launch services contract to Blue Origin and its “New Glenn” orbital launcher that will allow it to compete for future NASA missions, officials said on Wednesday. The contract establishes Blue Origin as a potential supplier for planetary expeditions, Earth observation missions and satellite launches for NASA and other government agencies.
“We are proud to be included in the NASA Launch Services Catalog and look forward to providing reliable launches for future NASA missions aboard the New Glenn for years to come. The award builds on the existing partnership between Blue Origin and NASA and will advance science and exploration for the benefit of Earth, ”said Jarrett Jones, senior vice president of the New Glenn program at Blue Origin.
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Under the terms of the contract, Blue Origin’s New Glenn system is eligible for orders through June 2025 and missions through the end of 2027. Private contractors are required to meet NASA performance standards in order to compete for missions.
Blue Origin plans to launch the New Glenn system in 2021.
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Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 and has funded the company in part through the sale of his personal Amazon shares in recent years. The company is seen as a direct competitor to the private space initiative of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, SpaceX.
The Trump administration has pushed for increased collaboration between the public and private sectors on future space missions. NASA has set a goal of returning to the moon by 2024.