(Bloomberg) — Jeff Bezos has told NASA that Blue Origin will waive as much as $2 billion of payments over the next two years as the rocket company seeks a government contract to develop a human landing system for the moon.
If selected, Kent-based Blue Origin would also fund a test of NASA’s lunar-descent module, which is the outpost that would serve as a critical link in trips to and from the moon. The funding would reduce risk for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Bezos wrote Monday in a public letter to its head, Bill Nelson.
“I am honored to offer these contributions and am grateful to be in a financial position to be able to do so,” Bezos wrote.
Blue Origin would also accept a fixed-price contract for the lunar lander and absorb any cost overruns in the work, Bezos said.
He said that NASA “veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy” when it selected Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. for a $2.9 billion contract to devise a lander system for the agency’s Artemis program. The program aims to return U.S. astronauts to the moon in the 2020s.
Bezos said the contract was awarded “due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and this offer removes that obstacle.”
At the time, NASA conceded that its selection was influenced by funding issues and that SpaceX had offered to cover some development costs.
“Instead of investing in two competing lunar landers as originally intended, the Agency chose to confer a multiyear, multibillion-dollar head start to SpaceX,” Bezos wrote.
Blue Origin’s National Team, which includes Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Draper, protested that award less than two weeks later with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. NASA has suspended work on the program, citing the protest.
NASA declined to comment, citing litigation related to the procurement process.
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