autoevolution

Jeff Bezos Gets Mad (Again) at NASA for Favoring Elon Musk, Promises the Moon

During humanity’s first space race half of a century ago, due to the political setup of the world, Americans sided with Americans and Russians with Russian in an epic struggle to dominate the space around our planet. Now, because the new space race is driven by private companies and not governments, Americans begin to turn on each other.
Jeff Bezos publishes an open letter meant for NASA 8 photos
Blue Origin's crew is riding in a Rivian electric truck to the launch siteBlue Origin's crew is riding in a Rivian electric truck to the launch siteNew Shepard rocket is getting ready for take offNew Shepard rocket is headed to the edge of spaceNew Shepard rocket is headed to the edge of spaceThe rocket booster has landed back at Blue Origin's Launch Site One in West TexasJeff Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation legend Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen are in the capsule after a safe touchdown
There are presently two private companies competing for NASA’s attention, namely SpaceX and Blue Origin. Of course, there are others involved in this, like say Boeing, but these other ones are used to working with the American space agency for decades, so nothing exciting is happening with them.

When it comes to SpaceX and Blue Origin though, it’s a continuous rollercoaster. Musk’s space company, having arrived first on the scene, is already one of NASA’s favorite children, leaving Blue Origin, although it too important for the current space exploration programs, to sulk in a corner.

And sulked he did, Jeff Bezos, in a very long, open letter released on Monday. The man is not unhappy with the fact he’s not getting his astronaut wings, or the fact NASA said nothing about his marginal flight to space, but about NASA awarding a “multi-year, multi-billion-dollar head start to SpaceX.”

“That decision broke the mold of NASA’s successful commercial space programs by putting an end to meaningful competition for years to come,” the billionaire said.

“It also eliminated the benefits of utilizing the broad and capable supply base of the National Team (as opposed to funding the vertically-integrated SpaceX approach) and locks every trip to the Moon into 10+ Super Heavy/Starship launches just to get a single lander to the surface.”

Bezos is referring to the fact that NASA awarded back in April a contract to SpaceX for the development of a lunar lander. That was a deal he already had something to say about ever since then, but now came back to it, with no fewer than three promises.

As per NASA, the firm-fixed price, milestone-based contract awarded to SpaceX for the lander has a total value of $2.89 billion, and because of this Blue Origin filed a 175-page protest filed with Government Accountability Office (GAO).

We don’t know yet how that’s going, but in another bid to secure access for his company to NASA’s Moon exploration program and the benefits that will come with that, Bezos in essence gives up on some money.

First of all, the man said he’s going to wave all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2 billion. "This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments," he says.

He also promised Blue Origin would develop and launch at its own cost "a pathfinder mission to low-Earth orbit of the lunar descent element to further retire development and schedule risks.”

And, lastly, Blue Origin said it would “accept a firm, fixed-priced contract for this work, cover any system development cost overruns, and shield NASA from partner cost escalation concerns.”

"All NASA needs to do is take advantage of this offer and amend the Appendix H contract we hold today,"
the billionaire ends his letter.

As you all know, Bezos is no fool. So, seeing all these promises being made, and the bitter fight that's just starting between the companies involved, we are really beginning to get a sense of how profitable space exploration will be, provided one is in on it from the get-go.

Jeff Bezos' open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is attached in the press release section below. Take your time going through it and become convinced we're already living through the future described so many times in science-fiction books and movies.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories