A team led by Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin won a coveted NASA contract to build a spacecraft to send astronauts to and from the moon’s surface, NASA’s chief announced on Friday, capping a high-stakes contest.
NASA’s decision will give the agency a second ride to the moon under its Artemis program, after it awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX $3 billion in 2021 to land astronauts on the moon for the first time since the final Apollo mission in 1972.
Those initial missions using SpaceX’s Starship system are slated for later this decade.
The contract Blue Origin contract is valued roughly $3.4 billion, NASA’s exploration chief Jim Free said, with Blue Origin privately contributing “well north” of that amount, Blue Origin’s lunar lander head John Couluris said.
Blue Origin has said little about its latest moon lander proposal beyond naming its corporate partners, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, spacecraft software firm Draper, and robotics firm Astrobotic.