Bezos offers billions in incentives for NASA's lunar lander contract ' TechCrunch

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is offering to cut up to $2Billion off the cost to develop a lunar lander. He also offers to self-fund a mission to find a pathfinder mission for a NASA contract.This contract relates to the development of a lunar landing lander for NASA's Human Landing System program. It aims to bring humans back to the moon for first time since Apollo. NASA announced that Blue Origin and SpaceX were selected for the first phase of the contract in April 2020. It was believed that two companies would be chosen to build lunar landing platforms. TechCrunchs Darrell Etherington points out that it is not unusual for NASA to choose two vendors. This was the case when it awarded SpaceX and Boeing contracts under its Commercial Crew program.NASA made a surprising decision to select SpaceX as the contract partner, announcing it had chosen that company a year later. Elon Musk led the company and proposed a $2.89 Billion plan for its lander, roughly half of Blue Origins $5.99 Billion proposal. Bezos now offers to reduce that price tag by 2 billion.NASA has provided The Washington Post with a document explaining why it selected a single vendor to the HLS contract. Congress approved only $850 million for the HLS program for fiscal year 2021. This is far less than the $3.4 billion NASA requested.Enter Bezos' open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. It addresses the budget issue directly. The proposed incentives would address perceived short-term budgetary problems with the Human Landing System Program. This was what led NASA to choose one company over two.Bezos states in the letter that instead of investing in two rival lunar landers, the Agency decided to give SpaceX a multiyear, multi-billion dollar head start. This decision broke the mold for NASA's commercial space programs, ending meaningful competition for many years.Blue Origin has not hesitated to question NASA's decision to only work with one vendor. One week after the announcement of the award, Dynetics and Blue Origin filed protests to the Government Accountability Office. Blue Origin claimed that the contract requirements didn't give companies the ability to compete meaningfully. GAO must decide on the protest by August 4.Blue Origin and Dynetics were not the only entities that supported two contract awards. SpaceNews reported that the Senate passed a bill which would have required NASA to choose two companies to build the HLS lander. However, not all lawmakers were happy with the addition of the additional funding. Senator Bernie Sanders called it a Bezos rescue plan, but was eventually unsuccessful in getting the additional funding removed from the bill.Bezos stated that we are ready to assist NASA with its technical risks, budgetary constraints, and get the Artemis Program back on track, making it more competitive, credible and sustainable.