Jeff Bezos offered NASA, the US space agency, to pay $ 2 billion (more than R $ 10.3 billion) in costs in return for participating in the contract to build a lunar lander.
In April, NASA placed the $ 2.9 billion contract with Elon Musk, rejecting the original offer from Bezos’ company Blue Origin. The two billionaire entrepreneurs vied to build the landing system that will bring astronauts to the surface of the moon in 2024.
The American space agency was only able to award the contract to one company, not two, because the budget was insufficient. NASA received just $ 850 million of the $ 3.3 billion it asked Congress to build the lunar landing platform.
In a letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson posted on Monday (26), Bezos wrote: “Blue Origin will complete the missing budget for the Human Landing System (HLS) by adding all of its revenue for the current and next fiscal year the government is suspending and a total of $ 2 billion to ensure the program gets back on track. “
“This offer is not a postponement (receipt of the $ 2 billion contract), but a permanent suspension of those payments.” Bezos flew into space with his brother Mark on the first tourist space flight of his New Shepard plane last week.
At the time of the award of the contract, Kathy Lueders, one of NASA’s directors, admitted that the space agency did not have sufficient funds to select two companies to participate in the project.
NASA also cited the repertoire of orbital missions from Elon Musk’s company SpaceX as a factor in the selection of the lunar landing system. Cost also played a role in the decision: SpaceX offered to do the work for a lower fee than Blue Origin.
As a result, the cylindrical Starship vehicle would carry NASA astronauts for the first mission to the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972. Alabama’s defense firm Dynetics also applied for the contract.
Bezos had teamed up with space giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper at the event to participate in this crucial phase of NASA’s human landing system.
Their vehicle was called the Blue Moon and looks like a more robust version of the lunar module that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the lunar surface in 1969.
In his letter, Bezos emphasized the trustworthy legacy of Blue Moon: “We have created a 21st century lunar landing system inspired by the Apollo architecture – an architecture with many advantages. One of the most important of these is safety.”
Elon Musk’s Starship dares to construct space planes with a radical landing strategy and innovative methane gas engines. Bezos also used his letter to highlight Blue Origin’s use of hydrogen fuel, which coincides with NASA’s longstanding interest in refueling spacecraft with frozen water from the moon.
Water can be broken down into hydrogen and oxygen to power rocket engines.
In the company’s selection communiqué in April, SpaceX was rated “acceptable” on the technical side and “excellent” in administration. Blue Origin also received an “acceptable” rating for its technical competence, but the rating for the administration was “very good”, lower than SpaceX.
After Blue Origin lost to Elon Musk’s company, Blue Origin filed a complaint with the US Government Accounting Office claiming NASA “mistakenly changed the goal posts at the last minute” to secure the contract with SpaceX.
The objection, along with one submitted by Dynetics, is pending evaluation, but part of the space community believes the possibility of the decision being overturned is unlikely.