Washington DC: Billionaire Jeff Bezos offered NASA, the US space agency, 2 billion US dollars in exchange for a contract with his company, Blue Origin, to make a spacecraft designed to land on the moon, reports The Guardian.
Bezos wrote NASA administrator Bill Nelson that Blue Origin would waive payments in the government's current fiscal year and next ones up to 2 billion dollars. He added that the company would pay for an orbital mission to vet its technology. In return, it will accept a firm, fixed-price contract and cover any system development overruns, he wrote.
Bezos further wrote that NASA veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and his offer removes that obstacle.
However, NASA refused to comment, citing the protest Blue Origin had filed with the US government Accountability office accusing the agency of giving SpaceX an unfair advantage by allowing it to revise its pricing. But the agency said they are aware of Bezos' letter.
The GAO's decision on Blue Origin's petition is expected by early August, but the company does not believe in the possibility of a reversal, according to industry sources.
SpaceX also didn't comment.
Earlier, under its Artemis program to return humans to the moon, NASA had asked proposals for a spacecraft that would carry astronauts to the moon's surface. In April, the agency gave SpaceX, billionaire Elon Musk's company, a 2.9 billion dollars contract to build the craft so that the lunar mission could be carried as early as 2024. The agency cited its own funding sort falls, SpaceX's proven record of orbital missions etc., as its decision behind the contract. Bid by Blue Origins, partnered with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper, was rejected. Also, defence contractor Dynetics's proposal was rejected.
Jeff Bezos had flown the edge of space in a rocket-and-capsule, New Shephard, owned by his company. This feat was aimed at his company's bid to become a significant player in space tourism.