Two moguls always make the news whenever space or anything space-related is discussed. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have been named rocket rivals, and rightly so, as the two always seem to be head-on trying to outshine the other in the race to reach space.
It may be by announcing a new rocket design or testing short space trips or simply a head-on battle of words on Twitter. But something brought them together recently. Does this mean SpaceX and Blue Origin are finally laying down their weapons and joining hands?
In this article, you’re going to find out whether or not the two rival space companies, SpaceX and Blue Origin, are merging on a project? Keep watching as we explain what this project is and how it could bring the two rivals together.
The Space Launch System is a rocket that NASA promises to be the most powerful rocket they ever built. It has been in development for nearly a decade now, and once completed, it will enable astronauts to explore the solar system. The first flight on the SLS will be Artemis I and will land the first woman and first person of color on the moon.
They will be accompanied by a suite of new science instruments and technology demonstrations to study the moon, making way for the ultimate goal – to establish a long-term presence on the moon.
NASA had initially forecasted the landing on the moon in 2028, but in March 2019, ex-Vice President Mike Pence said, “That’s not good enough. We’re better than that.” and announced a much earlier new goal to land on the moon by 2024.
To meet Pences 2024 deadline, NASA had to move faster. NASA’s Space Launch System could make its flight, but they needed a landing system for the Artemis program’s first crewed trip to the lunar surface. NASA decided to award grants to private companies to make the moon lander designs.
This is where SpaceX and Blue Origin came in, along with three other US companies. NASA awarded a total of 146 million US dollars for the contracts under the agency’s Artemis program. Blue Origin Federation received a value of 25.6 million US dollars, and SpaceX got 9.4 million US dollars.
The highest award value of $40.8 million was bagged by Dynetics, a Leidos company, followed by Lockheed Martin at $35.2 million and Northrop Grumman at $34.8 million. Unfortunately, the remaining two companies, Blue Ridge Nebula Starlines and Cook & Chevalier Enterprises did not get any contract.
The contract with NASA Before we reveal why Bezos is in hot waters with NASA, let’s talk about the contract SpaceX and Blue Origin have been awarded in more detail. These contracts were awarded under Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships) or NextSTEP-2 for short.
It falls under Appendix N: which works for Sustainable Human Landing System Studies and Risk Reduction. The objective of the contract is to engage with potential commercial partners for concept studies, sustaining HLS concept of operations (ground and flight) development, and risk reduction activities.
To make it simple, what this means is that the companies awarded this contract will develop lander design concepts over the next fifteen months. They will evaluate these concepts by design and performance.
They will also have to analyze construction standards, mission assurance needs, safety, crew health accommodations, and medical capabilities. These companies are also responsible for conducting critical studies and risk reduction activities to create sustainable lander concepts.
If all works well, NASA plans to use “the work of these companies to ultimately help shape the strategy and requirements for a future NASA’s solicitation to provide regular astronaut transportation from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon,” as stated by the agency.
Blue Origin tussle with NASA So now that you know about the project that SpaceX and Blue Origin are working on not exactly together, but more supportive for the other as they share a common goal. But let us back up a bit and reveal to you what we promised at the very start.
Why is Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin making the wrong kind of headline? Why is it being said that one reason to award this contract to Blue Origin may be to halt what people are famously calling a very public tantrum?
To bring you to the loop, this contract awarded to the five companies is not the first by NASA. In April, NASA awarded a single contract to SpaceX, and its Starship, worth a whopping 2.9 billion US dollars.
This contract was to create a human landing system for the Artemis program, the program that we mentioned before that aims to send the first astronauts to the moon since the end of the Apollo program.
Elon Musk and his Starship won this contract single-handedly, beating out Jeff Bezos Blue Origin and Alabama-based military and space contractor Dynetics. This did not sit well with Jeff Bezos as he dragged NASA to federal court in August.
But before deciding to take it to court, Bezos suffered a mighty blow to his ego when the US Government Accountability Office also sided with Musk and his Starship. Elon Musk has discreetly shown his appreciation for GAO by tweeting “GAO” with a muscle hand emoji.
Very cryptic and smart, Elon Musk, we have to say! Jeff Bezos claimed in his lawsuit that he wants to remedy the flaws in the acquisition process of NASA’s Human Landing System.
Blue Origin said in a statement, “We firmly believe that the issues identified in this procurement and its outcomes must be addressed to restore fairness, create competition, and ensure a safe return to the moon for America.
Elon Musk also had to intervene in the lawsuit to ensure that the court “has a complete and accurate picture of the facts and circumstances surrounding this protest, including the substantial harm that SpaceX will suffer if the court grants the relief sought” by Blue Origin.
This ongoing litigation has led to NASA temporarily halting work on the contract with Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos biggest mistake We could stop here and say that this is all there is to this billion-dollar war for space, but Jeff Bezos had a few more tricks up his sleeve that people are calling to be his biggest mistakes yet, naming his war against NASA a public tantrum by a billionaire.
With GAO and NASA both siding with Musk, Bezos decided to take it to Twitter. His next move was a media campaign criticizing Starship as a lunar lander, referring to it as “what immense complexity and heightened risk looks like” Elon Musk responded by calling these criticisms an exaggeration and boasting the record SpaceX has of successful missions to the International Space station.
We wish we could say Bezos stopped here, but his last move has been an open letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson late last month, where he offered to cover $2 billion of NASA’s expenses in exchange for an HLS contract.
It was essentially a hail Mary offering a deep discount after the sale to a competitor was already done. Even after every possible trick in the book, NASA indicates that they will go to the moon with SpaceX alone. NASA now has till October 12 to refute the lawsuit.
Till then, there will likely be a delay in the Artemis program timeline, which means we will not be living the dream to land on the moon very soon. That brings us to the end of our article.
Now that you know about the contract awarded to both SpaceX and Blue Origin and also about the contract awarded to SpaceX alone, what do you think?
Do you think SpaceX and Blue Origin can work together on the contract awarded to them both by NASA while a court war is at play on the side for the first? Or do you think this war will yield one winner and one loser? Comment below, and I will be responding to all comments.
Thanks for reading till the end. Comment what’s your opinion about this information “Jeff Bezos Insane New Proposal to SpaceX Changes Everything”.
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Information Source: Youtube – Tech Fusion