NASA announced that it has awarded Jeff Bezos space exploration company, Blue Origin, $3.4 billion to develop spacecraft for Artemis V, the 2029 mission scheduled to land astronauts on the moon’s surface and aid in the preparations for future astronaut missions to Mars.

Blue Origin is the latest company to join NASA’s lunar lander program, competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which was the first to be awarded a lunar lander contract in 2021 to develop a spacecraft for NASA’s Artemis III and IV Moon landing mission. Artemis III is scheduled for launch as early as December 2025.


“Today we are excited to announce Blue Origin will build a human landing system as NASA’s second provider to deliver Artemis astronauts to the lunar surface,” Bill Nelson, NASA’s Administrator, said in an official statement. “We are in a golden age of human spaceflight, which is made possible by NASA’s commercial and international partnerships. Together, we are making an investment in the infrastructure that will pave the way to land the first astronauts on Mars.”


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According to John Couluris, Blue Origin’s vice president for lunar transportation, in addition to NASA’s $3.4 billion, Blue Origin is reportedly “contributing well north of $3.4 billion as part of this effort,” meaning their lunar landing program is likely to cost more than $7 billion.

“We want to establish permanence on the moon, and we want to ensure that we have consistent access to the moon,” Nelson added. “So with that in mind, Blue Origin itself is contributing over 50% of the total effort to get to not only this mission but to ensure permanence.”

According to Lisa WatsonMorgan, a Human Landing System Program manager at NASA, having both Blue Origin and Space X in the lunar program, “with different approaches to how they meet NASA’s mission needs,” will reportedly increase competition, drive innovation, reduce costs to taxpayers, and “invests in commercial capabilities to grow the business opportunities that can serve other customers and foster a lunar economy.”

In a similar vein, Nelson also emphasized that they “want more competition.” “It means that you have reliability. You have backups,” he said on Friday. Regardless of the benefits for NASA, the lunar program deal has put the two billionaires and sci-fi fanatics – Bezos, 59, and Musk, 51 – in direct competition with one another despite their fundamentally different approaches to space and spaceflight.

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