‘s space company said it is making another run at the moon, after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration chose rival SpaceX to handle a high-profile lunar mission last year.
Blue Origin LLC, the space company Mr. Bezos founded and has backed, said Tuesday in a tweet that it is part of a group that submitted a bid to develop a lunar lander capable of transporting NASA astronauts to the surface of the moon on future missions for Artemis, the agency’s space-exploration program. Blue Origin’s partners on its bid include
Lockheed Martin Corp.
Last year, NASA awarded SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to use a version of the
-led company’s planned Starship vehicle to handle that task, on a mission currently set for 2025.
NASA’s decision to issue a single contract for that lander drew a protest and a lawsuit from Blue Origin, both of which were unsuccessful. It also prompted Mr. Bezos to write a letter to NASA’s administrator,
“Instead of investing in two competing lunar landers as originally intended, the agency chose to confer a multiyear, multibillion-dollar head start to SpaceX,” his letter from July of last year said.
Mr. Bezos offered to cut the price for its lander bid by waiving payments to Blue Origin and have the company conduct and pay for a test mission. NASA officials weren’t immediately swayed, but facing pressure from Congress, the agency later agreed to seek proposals from companies other than SpaceX for a second lander.
NASA also agreed to award SpaceX additional work using its Starship lander. The agency recently tasked the company with handling another moon landing in 2027.
NASA needs landers to take astronauts from its Orion spacecraft in lunar orbit to the surface of the moon and back, where they would re-enter Orion for a trip back to Earth. The agency launched the first Artemis mission last month, and the uncrewed Orion vehicle used for that flight is expected to return to Earth next Sunday.
Blue Origin and its partners are likely to face competition to win the deal to deliver the second lander. An executive at a division of
Leidos Holdings Inc.
said at a recent investor meeting that the company planned to submit its own bid. NASA usually makes the names of bidders available after an award and protest period, an agency spokeswoman said.
—Doug Cameron contributed to this article
Write to Micah Maidenberg at email@example.com
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