The Verge By Joey Roulette Jun 9, 2021A push from Jeff Bezos’ space company to unlock $10 billion in Moon lander funds moves to the House
A controversial amendment pushed by Jeff Bezos’ space firm Blue Origin passed the Senate Wednesday night, inching closer to becoming law. Crammed inside a mammoth science and technology bill designed primarily to counter competition from China, the amendment would allow NASA to spend up to $10 billion on its embattled Moon lander program. Aside from countering China, it also marks the latest development on Bezos’ warpath to counter competition from Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
For Blue Origin, the $10 billion boost is a key weapon in an enduring rivalry between the country’s two richest people — one way or another, the company hopes parts of the funding could help give it a better chance to compete with SpaceX. It’s just one front in a wide-ranging effort to change the outcome of NASA’s watershed Human Landing System competition: the space agency gave SpaceX, and only SpaceX, a $2.9 billion contract in April to launch its first two missions to the Moon by 2024, upsetting expectations that two companies would be picked.
NASA says it picked SpaceX because it had the best and most affordable proposal, and only SpaceX because it didn’t have enough funds to pick a second company. Last year, Congress gave NASA a quarter of what it requested to fund two separate lunar landers. Blue Origin and Dynetics, the two losing companies, filed protests with the country’s top watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, triggering a pause on SpaceX’s award that could last until August 4th. Among dozens of counterarguments, Blue Origin says NASA unfairly gave SpaceX a chance to negotiate its contract that other bidders didn’t get and unfairly snubbed its roughly $6 billion proposal.