Earlier this year, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin lost a proposal to rival SpaceX to design a human landing system for NASA’s Artemis Program. However, the company has been awarded a NASA contract for a similar job this week at a considerably lower price.
Blue Origin and four other businesses were awarded a series of $146 million contracts by NASA on Tuesday to develop moon lander concepts that could lead to actual landing system development in the future.
According to a NASA press statement, Blue Origin was awarded a $26.5 million contract as part of the agency’s Artemis mission to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. The other four companies are SpaceX ($9.4 million), Dynetics ($40.8 million), Lockheed Martin ($35.2 million) and Northrop Grumman ($34.8 million).
Jeff Bezos received less than 1% of the $6 billion he wanted when his company competed for the human landing system (HLS) contract earlier this year, which it ended up losing to SpaceX, its biggest rival.
This has led to a lengthy legal battle that has virtually hampered the development of the HLS and the Artemis project. Unfortunately, it’s also fueled a lot more hatred between Bezos and Elon Musk, who has roasted his fellow billionaire on Twitter several times.
According to an anonymous NASA source, due to the lawsuit, Blue Origin “will never get a real government contract”, reported by Ars Technica last month.
The recent contracts were awarded under NextSTEP-2 (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships) Appendix N: Sustainable Human Landing System Studies and Risk Reduction. As a result, the funds awarded to Jeff Bezos falls under a separate part of the same HLS contract awarded to SpaceX in August, which Blue Origin is suing NASA over.
Therefore, it suggests, Blue Origin may now be actively promoting SpaceX’s vision for the HLS, which is rather ridiculous.