Billionaire space race: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin takes huge NASA win over Musk’s SpaceX

Innovation

NASA announced Friday morning that Amazon founder and billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin was awarded a contract upwards of $3 billion to develop a lunar lander for Artemis V—a mission scheduled to take astronauts to the moon in 2029—just two years after Bezos’ company lost a similar bid to billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
US-SPACE-AWARD-BEZOS

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

Key Background

In the 2021 bid for contracts, it was expected that two companies would be chosen to see out the Artemis program, but instead NASA solely chose Musk’s, citing its lower price tag and the organization’s tight budget at the time. Musk’s SpaceX contract was half of what Bezos was asking for at the time, and Dynetics, a defense company based in Huntsville, Ala. that also applied, wanted even more. Bezos and Dynetics protested the decision to only give one contract, but the federal Government Accountability Office rejected the protests. After that, Blue Origin sued in federal court, but lost again.

What To Watch For

Now that both SpaceX and Blue Origin have contracts, though, the competition is far from over. In a press release accompanying the announcement, NASA said having two lunar landing options via SpaceX and Blue Origin “will increase competition, reduce costs to taxpayers, support a regular cadence of lunar landings, further invest in the lunar economy and help NASA achieve its goals on and around the Moon in preparation for future astronaut missions to Mars.”

Elon Musk.
What We Don’t Know

The exact cost of the project remains unknown at this point. NASA is contributing $3.4 billion, but Couluris only said in the press conference that Blue Origin would be contributing “well north of “$3.4 billion” to the mission but wouldn’t give an exact figure.

Forbes Valuation

While Bezos is closer to catching up to Musk in space, he’s still behind the Tesla and Twitter CEO in wealth. Forbes estimates Musk to be worth $184.7 billion, as of Thursday, making him the second-richest person in the world, while we estimate Bezos to be worth $139.4 billion, making him the third-richest person in the world.

This story was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.


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