Bezos offers to cover $2 billion in exchange for NASA contract

Jeff Bezos holds aviation goggles that belonged to Amelia Earhart as he speaks during a press conference about his Blue Origins New Shepard flight into space July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on Monday offered to cover billions in NASA costs in exchange for a contract to build a lunar lander to land astronauts on the moon.

Bezos said Blue Origin will waive all payments of up to $ 2 billion from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the current and next two years in office. Blue Origin would also fund its own scout mission to low-earth orbit, according to Bezos. In return, the company demanded a fixed price contract from the authorities.

“This offer is not a postponement, but a direct and permanent waiver of these payments. This offer allows time for government action to be taken, ”Bezos said in an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

NASA awarded SpaceX a single $ 2.89 billion contract with Elon Musk in April to build the next manned lunar lander as part of its Human Landing Systems program. Prior to the selection of the winner of the competition, NASA presented SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics with 10-month study contracts to begin work on lunar landers.

“Instead of this single-source approach, NASA should adopt its original competitive strategy,” said Bezos. “Without competition, after a short contract period, NASA will have limited options when trying to negotiate missed deadlines, design changes and cost overruns.”

Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, started earlier this month with a trip into space on the first manned New Shepard rocket flight, a project of his company Blue Origin.

He and his fellow travelers hovered in weightlessness for a few minutes before their capsule returned and landed after 10 minutes and 10 seconds.

Right now, Bezos and his billionaire Richard Branson are the only two big entrepreneurs in the market taking tourists to the edge of space. Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which also recently completed a flight with a crew, has historically sold seats on their flights between $ 200,000 and $ 250,000 per ticket.

The tourism market is only one part of a space economy valued at no less than $ 420 billion. Its high standing, however, means it has had a strong and far-reaching impact on the space industry, with investors often pointing to astronaut flights to fuel the excitement about the broader ramifications of the alien market.

Blue Origin has sold nearly $ 100 million worth of tickets for future passenger flights to the edge of space, Bezos said last week. The company is actively working to build more rocket boosters to fly more often at the “very high” rate Bezos is hoping for.

– CNBC’s Michael Sheetz contributed to the coverage.

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