Fresh from his trip to the edge of space, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos has offered NASA a discount of up to $2 billion to give his space company Blue Origin the human lunar landing system (HLS) contract, won by Elon Musk's SpaceX earlier this year.
After having been rebuffed earlier, Jeff Bezos has offered NASA a huge discount in exchange of awarding Blue Origin a contract to make a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the lunar surface.
Human Lunar Landing System Contract
The billionaire, who is basking in the glory of his space mission earlier this month, said his company would offer a $2 billion discount to the US space agency if Blue Origin is given the human lunar landing system (HLS) contract.
Earlier this year the contract was awarded to Bezos' rival Elon Musk's SpaceX. Musk got the $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to take astronauts to the moon by 2024.
Though Blue Origin was also expected to be picked for the contract, NASA cited funding cuts from the US government for the decision to turn down Blur Origin's proposal.
Protest Against NASA Decision
After this, Blue Origin filed a protest with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) against NASA's decision to award the contract to SpaceX.
The Amazon founder stressed the fact that without competition, the space mission will lag and finally become too costly. "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 said, according to Reuters.
Bezos also criticized NASA's decision to discard its proposal earlier this year. "NASA veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and this offer removes that obstacle," he said.
As per the offer, Blue Origin will bridge the HLS budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2 billion to get the program back on track right now, Bezos said. The company will accept a fixed-priced contract for this work and cover any system development cost overruns, he added.
"I believe this mission is important. I am honoured to offer these contributions and am grateful to be in a financial position to be able to do so," Bezos wrote.
"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. Blue Origin will, at its own cost, contribute the development and launch of a pathfinder mission to low-Earth orbit of the lunar descent element to further retire development and schedule risks," Bezos said.
Bezos underlined his commitment to develop a safe and sustainable lander that will take cosmonauts to the moon and back. He expressed his views in an open letter to the NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. He said he was committed to US space agency's goals and will work to bridge the budgetary shortfall of the agency.
"I believe this mission is important. I am honoured to offer these contributions and am grateful to be in a financial position to be able to do so," Bezos said.