Daily US Times: Amazon founder and billionaire investor Jeff Bezos has offered to cover $2bn of Nasa costs in order to be reconsidered for a key contract to build a Moon landing vehicle.
Nasa awarded the $2.9bn contract to Elon Musk in April, rejecting a bid from Bezos’ company Blue Origin.
The award is for developing the landing system that will carry astronauts down to the lunar surface as early as 2024.
Nasa could only award the contract to one company, not two as expected because of a funding shortfall.
Nasa had received only $850 million of the $3.3 billion it requested from Congress to build the Moon lander.
In a letter to Nasa’s administrator Bill Nelson Mr Bezos wrote: “Blue Origin will bridge the HLS [Human Landing System] budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2bn to get the programme back on track right now.”
The letter, which was released on Monday, added: “This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments.”
At the time of the award, Kathy Lueders, Nasa’s human exploration chief, admitted that the space agency’s current budget precluded it from selecting two companies.
Nasa also cited the proven record of orbital missions by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company as a factor in the award. Cost is also thought to have played a role in favor of Mr Musk: SpaceX’s bid was the lowest-priced by some distance.
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