Former Amazon CEO and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on Monday offered to cover up to $2 billion of NASA costs in exchange for a contract to build a lunar lander to land astronauts on the moon. The announcement comes just a few days after Bezos returned back from his inaugural flight to the edge of space.
In an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Bezos said his space company, Blue Origin, would waive all payments up to $2 billion from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the current and next two government fiscal years.
“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,” Bezos wrote.
Bezos went on to say that “Blue Origin will, at its own cost, contribute the development and launch of a pathfinder mission to the low-Earth orbit of the lunar descent element to further retire development and schedule risks. This pathfinder mission is offered in addition to the baseline plan of performing a precursor uncrewed landing mission prior to risking any astronauts to the Moon.”
“This contribution to the program is above and beyond the over $1B of corporate contribution cited in our Option A proposal that funds items such as our privately developed BE-7 lunar lander engine and indefinite storage of liquid hydrogen in space. All of these contributions are in addition to the $2B waiver of payments referenced above. Finally, Blue Origin will accept a firm, fixed-priced contract for this work, cover any system development cost overruns, and shield NASA from partner cost escalation concerns,” Bezos added.
As we reported back in April, NASA awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX with a sole $2.89 billion contract to build the next crewed lunar lander under its Human Landing Systems program, beating out Bezos’ Blue Origin and Dynetics. Before selecting the winner of the contest, NASA gave 10-month study contracts to SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics to begin work on lunar landers.
The Human Landing System (HLS) is a key component of successfully executing crewed demonstration missions to the lunar surface under the Artemis program. Late last year, NASA said it would be landing the first woman ever on the Moon within four years. At the time, the agency said it plans to return humans back to the lunar surface for the first time since 1972, through its Artemis program.
“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.”
Below is a video of NASA’s announcement.