Being the richest person in the world certainly helps deliver discounts to the federal government. But Blue Origin’s frustration with NASA’s bidding process goes far beyond the money. Typically, the agency would have selected two companies to supply a lander, to ensure that there would be a safeguard in the event of a project failure, and also to encourage competition between the two competing entities.
In fact, there were three companies initially selected through an assessment program – SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics, another aerospace entrepreneur. NASA has not publicly justified why it only selected SpaceX to continue development of the lander, sparking outrage from Dynetics and Blue Origin.
Bezos tried to improve on a potential reason for not supporting multiple contractors in an open letter to NASA. From the letter ” [Blue Origin] supporter[s] ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and resolve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis program back on a more competitive, credible and sustainable path. “
What is unclear so far is whether or not this open letter will have an impact on NASA’s final decision. Perhaps the recent proof that the company is capable of reaching quasi-space would increase confidence in its ability to fulfill the purpose of Artemis’ mission. Or maybe he’ll feel like he has next to nothing to lose by supporting a company that is willing to offer a “permanent waiver” of much of the cost of developing the project. Or maybe he’ll have to put pressure on the Senate, which recently passed a $ 10 billion spending bill for the Artemis Human Landing System.
Whatever the outcome, the best that the American people and the world can hope for is mission success. Whichever company actually makes the space agency’s dreams of a return to the moon come true, it will deserve well-deserved praise for doing so. There should also be enough praise for everyone if there are two.
Phys.org – Bezos offers NASA $ 2 billion in rebate for Blue Origin Moon lander
The Verge – Jeff Bezos offers NASA $ 2 billion to choose Blue Origin’s lunar lander in last-minute plea
Ars Technica – Bezos says he’s now ready to invest in a lunar lander – here’s why
UT – Blue Origins founder wants to get to the moon by 2024
The famous “Earthrise” photo taken by Apollo astronauts on the moon.
Credit – NASA