Bezos' Blue Origin bags NASA contract to build astronaut lunar lander


Bezos' Blue Origin bags NASA contract to build astronaut lunar lander

A team led by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin won a $3.4 billion NASA contract to build a spacecraft to fly astronauts to and from the moon's surface. Blue Origin plans to build its 52-foot (16-meter) tall Blue Moon lander in partnership with Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co , software firm Draper and robotics firm Astrobotic. NASA picked Blue Origin over a rival bid led by Leidos Inc-owned defense contractor Dynetics that also included Northrop Grumman Corp.

NASA's decision to go with Bezos and Blue Origin will give it a second option for sending astronauts to the moon under its Artemis program. NASA awarded fellow billionaire Musk's SpaceX $3 billion in 2021 to build its Starship spacecraft to land astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time since the final Apollo mission in 1972. The first two Starship missions are slated for later this decade. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said at an event announcing the contract at NASA's headquarters, "I've said it before: we want more competition, we want two landers, and that's better. It means that you have reliability, you have backups." 

The contract follows NASA's trend in recent years in which it helps fund development of private astronaut spacecraft, then pays to use the craft in missions rather than spending more to own the vehicle entirely. 

Blue Origin, founded in 2000, is investing "well north" of the $3.4 billion figure to develop the spacecraft, the company's lunar lander Chief John Couluris said that Blue Origin, not NASA, would pay for any cost overruns.


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