Blue Origin has been busy lately. They sent their founder Jeff Bezos into space and offered themselves for NASA’s new Lunar Lander project. While SpaceX won that contract back in April, Blue Origin continued to fight for its right to supply the space agency with an alternate lander. And recently, their not exactly astronaut boss had added another fuel to the fire by offering to take $ 2 billion off the price of a Blue Origin lander.
Being the richest person in the world certainly helps offer discounts to the federal government. But Blue Origin’s frustration with NASA’s bidding process extends well beyond money. Ordinarily, the agency would have selected two companies to supply a lander to ensure that backup would be in place in the event of a project failure and to encourage competition between the two competing companies.
Blue Origin video showcasing the company’s Blue Moon lunar lander.
Credit – Blue Origin YouTube Channel
In fact, three companies were originally selected through an evaluation program – SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics, another aerospace contractor. NASA has not publicly justified why it only selected SpaceX to continue development of the lander, which sparked outrage at both Dynetics and Blue Origin.
Bezos tried in an open letter to NASA to remove a possible reason for multiple contractors not to support. According to the letter “[Blue Origin] was standing[s] ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and resolve its budget constraints and get the Artemis program back on a more competitive, credible and sustainable path. “
Jeff Bezos stands in front of the Blue Moon – Blue Origin’s planned lunar lander
Credit – Blue Origin
So far it is unclear whether this open letter will have any impact on NASA’s final decision. Perhaps the latest evidence that the company is capable of nearly getting into space would increase confidence in its ability to achieve the Artemis mission goal. Or maybe it feels like it has almost nothing to lose by supporting a company that is willing to “permanently waive” a large portion of the project’s development costs. Or maybe it will be forced under pressure from the Senate, which recently passed a $ 10 billion bill for the Artemis human lander system.
Whatever the outcome, the best that the American people and the world can hope for is a successful completion of the mission. Whichever company fulfills the space agency’s dreams of a return to the moon will deserve well-deserved praise for it. There should also be enough praise if there happen to be two of them.
Screenshot from the Blue Origin webcast of the New Shepard rocket launch on July 20, 2021.
Credit – Blue Origin
Phys.org – Bezos is offering NASA a $ 2 billion discount on the Blue Origin Moon lander
The Verge – Jeff Bezos offers NASA $ 2 billion to pick Blue Origin’s lunar lander at the last minute
Ars Technica – Bezos says he’s ready to invest in a lunar lander now – here’s why
UT – The founder of Blue Origins wants to go to the moon by 2024
The famous “Earthrise” picture taken by Apollo astronauts on the moon.
Credit – NASA