NASA Space

For the NASA lunar lander deal, Bezos is offering billions in incentives

If NASA awards Blue Origin the second HLS (Human Landing System) contract, creator Jeff Bezos claims his business will cover over $2 billion in expenditures. Should NASA give the firm an HLS award such as the one SpaceX obtained in April to create and demonstrate the crewed lunar lander, Bezos said in a letter to the NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on July 26 that the firm will also waive up to a maximum of $2 billion in payouts in the first years of a new award, and also pay fees for the demonstration mission.

“We stand ready to assist NASA in reducing technological risks, resolving budgetary restrictions, and repositioning the Artemis Program to be more competitive, reliable, and long-term,” Bezos stated in the letter. According to Bezos’ plan, Blue Origin will forgo any payments up to $2 billion in the current financial year and the next two. “This offer is an unequivocal and permanent remission of those payments, not a deferral,” he wrote.

Blue Origin would also conduct “a pathfinder project to the low-Earth orbit (LEO) of the lunar descent component to further retire growth and schedule risks” at its own expense. This is in addition to the uncrewed lunar landing demo that the company claims was part of the “baseline plan” for creating the lunar lanes. According to Bezos, Blue Origin would embrace a firm-fixed-price deal for the job, something NASA had already requested for HLS.

The letter is the newest attempt to persuade NASA to grant the second HLS contract, which the agency had planned to do. However, in April, it stated that it will only make one HLS award to SpaceX because of funding constraints. The lowest bidder, SpaceX, offered $2.9 billion, contrasting to the Blue Origin-led “National Team’s” $5.99 billion and Dynetics’ $8.5–9 billion.

Officials from Blue Origin claimed that, unlike the SpaceX company, they were not offered the opportunity to alter their price throughout the HLS competition, which Bezos echoed in his letter. He admitted, “That was an error, it was odd, and it was a squandered chance.” “NASA strayed from its initial dual-source procurement approach due to projected near-term budgetary problems, and this proposal removes that obstacle,”

NASA officials stated in April. Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator in charge of the human exploration and operations, noted in a source selection statement, “I do not have sufficient funding allocated even to try to negotiate a pricing from Blue Origin that may conceivably support a contract award.” Concerning the HLS awards, both Dynetics and Blue Origin filed complaints with the GAO (Government Accountability Office). The GAO has until August 4 to decide on the protests.