Blue Origin wants the agency to offer a fixed-price contract that would cover any system development cost overruns.
In his bid to win the US space agency contract for self-owned company Blue Origin to build a spacecraft designed for astronauts’ adventure to the moon, billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos has offered up to $2 billion to NASA to reconsider his firm.
The billionaire’s spacecraft company, Blue Origin, recently lost a contract to rival billionaire Musk‘s SpaceX, which was awarded a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft designed to take astronauts to space by 2024. NASA rejected Blue Origin and Defense contractor Dynetics. At the time, the Bezos-owned space company had partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N), and Draper in the bid.
NASA, while awarding the contract to SpaceX cited the experience of the Elon Musk-owned company in the field plus the paucity of its funds alongside other cogent reasons. This, according to a top NASA official, Kathy Lueders, as “what’s the best value to the government.”
Bezos, however, wants to capitalize on this to see if the space agency would reconsider his firm. In his letter to NASA administrator Bill Nelson, the billionaire offered to waive payments in the current fiscal year and the next one while also offering to pay for an orbital mission to vet its technology. “This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments.”
Per the letter, the payment waiver would not exceed $2 billion. Blue Origin, in return, wants the agency to offer a fixed-price contract that would cover any system development cost overruns.
Part of the letter reads:
“NASA veered from its original dual-source acquisition strategy due to perceived near-term budgetary issues, and this offer removes that obstacle.”
Speaking on the development, a NASA spokesperson acknowledged the letter; however, the agency refused to comment on it referencing Blue Origin’s accusation that the agency gives its rival an undue advantage.
The agency previously had requested proposals from spacecraft that could carry astronauts to the moon, the first since 1972. It happened that the agency chose SpaceX, a rival company to Blue Origin. This led to a protest filed by Blue Origin to the U.S Government Accountability Office for a possible reversal of the contract awarded to SpaceX.
This new offer came a few days after he had successfully ascended alongside three crewmates to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin’s rocket-and-capsule New Shepard, a milestone for the company’s bid to become a major player in an emerging space tourism market.
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