Blue Origin Secures $3.4 Billion NASA Contract to Build Lunar Lander for Astronaut Missions

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Blue Origin, led by Jeff Bezos, has secured a significant contract worth $3.4 billion from NASA to construct a spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to and from the moon's surface. This achievement comes two years after Blue Origin lost out to Elon Musk's SpaceX in a previous competition.

In collaboration with Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Draper, and Astrobotic, Blue Origin intends to develop a 52-foot tall lunar lander called Blue Moon. NASA selected Blue Origin's proposal over a competing bid led by Dynetics, which included Northrop Grumman Corp.

By choosing Blue Origin, NASA now has a second option, in addition to SpaceX, for sending astronauts to the moon as part of its Artemis program. In 2021, NASA awarded SpaceX a $3 billion contract to construct the Starship spacecraft, aiming to land astronauts on the lunar surface for the first time since 1972.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson expressed his enthusiasm for the decision, stating that having two landers ensures reliability and backup options. The agency has been consistent in funding the development of private astronaut spacecraft and utilizing them in missions instead of owning them outright.

Blue Origin, founded in 2000, is investing a significant amount above the $3.4 billion contract value to develop the spacecraft. The company's lunar lander chief, John Couluris, mentioned that Blue Origin, rather than NASA, will cover any additional costs.

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of, took to Twitter to express his honor in embarking on this journey with NASA to establish a sustained presence on the moon.

NASA selected Blue Origin's proposal due to its competitive pricing, additional lander capabilities, and a plan to conduct two test landing missions on the moon in 2024 and 2025 at the company's own expense. However, the agency did express concerns regarding several conflicts and omissions in Blue Origin's proposed schedule and development deadlines.

Dynetics' bid, which raised technical concerns and came at a substantially higher cost, failed to meet NASA's requirements.

The Artemis program aims to establish a long-term presence on the moon. SpaceX's Starship lander is expected to carry out the initial two astronaut moon landings, followed by a similar mission in 2029 with Blue Origin's lander, with each mission landing two astronauts on the moon's surface.

This announcement marks a significant milestone for Bezos and Blue Origin, who have invested billions of dollars in competing with SpaceX, a dominant force in satellite launches and human spaceflight.

Blue Origin and Dynetics previously lost to SpaceX in 2021, with NASA citing budget constraints as the primary reason for selecting only one company.

Following their defeat, Blue Origin unsuccessfully sought to challenge NASA's decision, both through a watchdog agency and the court system. Blue Origin, along with U.S. lawmakers, advocated for NASA to procure a second lander.

As part of NASA's multi-spacecraft plan for the initial Artemis moon trips, astronauts will be launched toward the moon aboard the Space Launch System rocket and the Lockheed-built Orion capsule. The Orion capsule will dock with SpaceX's Starship lunar lander in space, which will then transport the crew to the moon.

In Blue Origin's mission, the Orion capsule and Blue Moon lander will dock with a planned space station orbiting the moon. The astronauts will then transfer between the vehicles before descending to the moon's surface.

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