The US space agency, Nasa, has chosen Blue Origin, the space company owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as its second partner in developing a spacecraft for astronauts to travel to the moon’s surface. This decision follows Nasa’s previous contract award of $3 billion to Elon Musk’s SpaceX in 2021, aimed at enabling astronauts to land on the moon for the first time since the Apollo mission in 1972.
The contract with Blue Origin is valued at approximately $3.4 billion, according to Nasa’s exploration chief, Jim Free. Blue Origin’s Vice President, John Couluris, stated that the company’s contribution would exceed that amount.
Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson announced the partnership, emphasizing the agency’s commitment to invest in the necessary infrastructure for future human missions to Mars. Nelson remarked, “Our shared ambitions now are no less lofty than when President [John F.] Kennedy dared a generation of dreamers to journey to the moon.”
Jeff Bezos expressed his honor in joining forces with Nasa, stating on Twitter that he is “honored to be on this journey with NASA to land astronauts on the Moon — this time to stay.”
As part of the collaboration, Blue Origin plans to construct the Blue Moon lander, which will stand 52 feet (16 meters) tall. The project will be a joint effort involving Lockheed Martin, Boeing’s spacecraft software firm Draper, and robotics firm Astrobotic. The Blue Moon lander is designed to transport two astronauts and is scheduled for its first mission in 2029.
Nasa’s decision to select Blue Origin came after a competitive bidding process that included a rival proposal from Dynetics, a defense contractor owned by Leidos. Although Blue Origin had previously lost a contract to SpaceX in 2021, the company sought to overturn Nasa’s decision through legal channels without success.
The inclusion of Blue Origin as a partner reflects the agency’s desire to foster commercial competition and ensure backup options for lunar missions. This move allows Jeff Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, to continue its pursuit of high-level government space projects, positioning it as a competitor to SpaceX, a dominant player in satellite launches and human spaceflight.
Under the Artemis mission, Nasa plans to utilize multiple spacecraft, including the Space Launch System rocket, to send astronauts toward the moon using the Lockheed-built Orion capsule. The capsule will dock with a lunar lander in space, which will then transport the crew to the moon’s surface.