Bezos offers $2bn for NASA Moon contract

Photo: EPA Jeff Bezos

US billionaire Jeff Bezos announced he offered to cover costs amounting at some two billion dollars if NASA awards him a contract to build a space ship for a Moon mission. Blue Origin, which is the Bezos company related to building space craft has applied to construct a space ship that can land astronauts on the Moon and afterwards return them to Earth, Reuters reported.

NASA in April gave to Elon Musk's SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the lunar surface as early as 2024, turning down bids from Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics. Blue Origin had partnered with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper in the bid. The space agency quoted its own funding shortfalls, SpaceX's proven record of orbital missions and other factors in a contract decision that senior NASA official Kathy Lueders called "what's the best value to the government." In a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Bezos said Blue Origin would waive payments in the government's current fiscal year and the next ones of up to $2 billion, and pay for an orbital mission. In exchange, Blue Origin would accept a firm, fixed-priced contract, and cover any system development cost overruns, Bezos said. "NASA veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and this offer removes that obstacle," Bezos wrote. "Without competition, NASA's short-term and long-term lunar ambitions will be delayed, will ultimately cost more, and won't serve the national interest," Bezos added. A NASA spokesperson said the agency was aware of Bezos' letter but declined to comment further, citing the protest Blue Origin filed with the US Government Accountability Office accusing the agency of giving SpaceX an unfair advantage by allowing it to revise its pricing.

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