Billionaire Jeff Bezos has slammed NASA for awarding an Artemis contract to rival SpaceX. Bezos owns private aerospace company Blue Origin. He founded Blue Origin in 2000. He has lodged a strong protest against NASA’s decision to pick SpaceX for developing a Moon lander. Under the USD 2.9 billion contract, SpaceX will develop a Moon lander for NASA. The agency awarded the contract to SpaceX earlier in April. SpaceX is owned by space enthusiast Elon Musk. Both SpaceX and Blue Origin were bidding for the contract. Besides, Dynetics was also in the fray. Dynetics is an American IT and defense contractor. The company serves the United States Department of Defense, NASA, and others.
Blue Origin termed NASA’s decision as flawed in a 175-page protest. It accused the space agency of misjudging its own proposal. The proposal involves developing a Moon lander for its Artemis program. The lander will take humans to Moon under NASA’s ambitious Artemis program. NASA was originally expected to select two lunar lander prototypes. This included one developed by Blue Origin. But the agency selected SpaceX over Bezos’s Blue Origin. This was done primarily because of a cut in funding by the US Congress. The company said that NASA’s decision leaves no scope for competition. It added that the decision will narrow the supply and also delay the country’s return to the Moon.
Blue Origin filed its protest with the Government Accountability Office. SpaceX owner Elon Musk responded to Bezos’ protest cryptically. Under the said contract, SpaceX will develop the first commercial Moon lander. The agency has plans to send the first woman and the next man to Moon by 2024. This will be the first crewed Moon mission by NASA in over five decades. NASA wants to demonstrate technology that could take humans deep into space and eventually to Mars for exploration. The two astronauts will spend around seven days on Moon’s surface. NASA will send three spacecraft under the Artemis program. The third and last one in 2024 will take humans to Moon.