Billionaire Jeff Bezos, owner of space company Blue Origin, offered NASA a $ 2 billion cut on Monday to let his company build a moon landing system.
The US space agency’s contract for a manned landing system, worth $ 2.9 billion, was awarded to rival SpaceX in April but Blue Origin and a third company, Dynetics, have filed claims. complaints that are pending a decision by the US government accounts office.
The United States is seeking to return to the Moon by 2024 as part of the Artemis program, and then use the lessons to prepare for a manned mission to Mars in the 2030s.
In an open letter to NASA on Monday, Jeff Bezos said his offer would “close the funding gap” that led the US space agency to choose only one company instead of two, which would then be in competition.
Since its failure in NASA’s tender, Blue Origin has led a frantic lobbying to overturn the decision, which has led the US Senate to pass a bill agreeing to allocate $ 10 billion to the government. manned landing system.
But the text is still debated in the House of Representatives and has been called a “bailout for Bezos” by his critics.
According to Jeff Bezos, one of the advantages of the Blue Moon landing system, built by his company, is the use as fuel of liquid hydrogen, which can be extracted from moon ice, in accordance with NASA’s plans to use the moon to refuel rockets during operations further into the solar system.
He added that the company would test its lander in orbit around Earth at its own expense.
“We are ready to help NASA moderate its technical risks, resolve its budgetary constraints and put the Artemis program back on a more competitive, credible and sustainable path,” concluded Jeff Bezos.
It is not certain that his last-minute intervention will tip the result of the attribution.