Space entrepreneur Jeff Bezos has offered NASA a $2billion ($1.45billion) discount for the contract to build a Moon lander vehicle as part of a new mission with the deal already been handed to rival Elon Musk’s SpaceX company.
The Blue Origin owner has written an open letter to the space agency with the offer to undercut the contract given to SpaceX to construct the landing craft.
For the 2024 mission to Moon, a $2.9billion ($2.1billion) contract was given to Musk’s company after the Blue Origin bid was turned down. SpaceX offered the lower bid and has successful orbital missions.
Now, fresh from his own mission into space, Bezos included in his letter to NASA that his offer would “bridge the funding shortfall” that led to only one contractor being picked in the first place, rather than having two in order to compete with each other.
He pointed out that his $2billion discount was “not a deferral” but an “outright waiver”.
After the deal was given to SpaceX, Blue Origin and another company Dynetics made a legal protest to US authorities and are waiting to hear back.
The United States is upping its space programme with the 2024 Moon mission followed by a possible Mars trip in the 2030s.
Blue Origin has been lobbying the Senate to reverse the contract deal with SpaceX and the pressure has led to a bill being passed to add $10billion to the human lander system.
Bezos has also said that his company’s lander would use liquid hydrogen as fuel from lunar ice which is part of NASA’s plan to use the Moon as a refueling depot for further missions.
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"We stand ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks and solve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis Program back on a more competitive, credible, and sustainable path," Bezos said.
“We created a 21st-century lunar landing system inspired by the well-characterised Apollo architecture — an architecture with many benefits.
"One of its important benefits is that it prioritises safety."
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