How Jeff Bezos caught up with Elon Musk in the race to the moon

Jeff Bezos’ space exploration company Blue Origin is getting another chance to build a lunar lander that would take astronauts to the moon after losing to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

NASA announced that it will advertise it new designs for a lunar lander to be launched as part of the Artemis III program – the US space agency’s first manned landing mission to our planet’s only natural satellite since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Blue origin said CNBC that he intends to make an offer.

Astronauts are not expected to return to the lunar surface until 2025 at the earliest. NASA is planning an unmanned moon landing in 2024.

NASA’s announcement on Wednesday is a victory for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Last summer, Bezos’ Blue Origin sued NASA over the agency’s decision to award SpaceX a $2.9 billion lunar lander contract.

In his Announcing the award to SpaceXNASA said the outfit offered the lowest price “by a wide margin.”

Bezos and Blue Origin are aware of NASA's decision last year to award Musk's SpaceX a multi-billion dollar contract.
Bezos and Blue Origin are aware of NASA’s decision last year to award Musk’s SpaceX a multi-billion dollar contract.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The agency added at the time that because it allocated just $850 million in NASA’s fiscal 2021 budget for lander development, Congress “down-voted” to award the contract to just one bidder instead of two.

In a statement, Blue Origin criticized NASA’s decision as “flawed” and said the US space agency “moved the goalposts at the last minute.”

Bezos’ company also filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office.

On Wednesday, Blue Origin struck a different tone. The company said it was “thrilled that NASA is creating competition by procuring a second human lunar landing system.”

“By doing so, NASA will provide the critical redundancy and resiliency needed to establish a sustained US lunar presence,” said a spokesman for Blue Origin.

SpaceX plans to launch its flagship Starship rocket this year.
SpaceX plans to launch its flagship Starship rocket this year.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Musk announced this week that SpaceX’s Starship rocket is ready to launch its first orbital flight around Earth as early as May.

SpaceX’s CEO tweeted Monday that his company expects to produce nearly 40 “flyable” Raptor 2 engines by next month. It would then “take another month to integrate, so hopefully May for orbital flight testing”.

Launch timing is subject to final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, which must sign off on the final phase of the rocket’s development. The FAA is expected to complete its environmental review by March 28.

Musk said he expects the FAA to give the green light. How Jeff Bezos caught up with Elon Musk in the race to the moon


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