Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat who represents the state of Washington where Amazon’s world headquarters is located, is pushing for NASA to reopen a competition for third-party contractors to build its next lunar lander, after Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin lost out to Elon Musk’s SpaceX in the competition for the contract last month.
Earlier this week, Sen. Cantwell proposed an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act, a bill that funds NASA’s Artemis Program, to land U.S. astronauts on the moon within the next five years.
The amendment would force NASA to reopen the competition for a lunar landing contract and allow the agency to use up to $10 billion of its budget to select a second lunar lander contractor.
This comes after Blue Origin, the space exploration company founded by Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos, lost out to SpaceX last month.
If Sen. Cantwell’s amendment is successful, it would mean almost $10 billion in taxpayer funds could go to the company owned by Bezos, the richest man in the world. Cantwell represents the State of Washington, where Amazon is headquartered, and the tech monopoly has given her $59,000 in the 2020 election cycle alone.
Via the Verge:
A senior lawmaker proposed a controversial piece of legislation on Wednesday that directs NASA to pick a second company to build the agency’s next Moon landers — in addition to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which was awarded a $2.9 billion NASA contract to build a lander earlier this year. The bill hasn’t passed the full Senate yet, but it marks a new front in an ongoing effort to overturn or rejig NASA’s decision. It also sets up the first political challenge for NASA’s new administrator, former Sen. Bill Nelson.
NASA’s choice of SpaceX last month to build the agency’s first lunar lander since 1972 spawned a wave of opposition from some lawmakers and the two losing companies in the running: Jeff Bezos’ space firm Blue Origin and Dynetics. Those companies lodged formal protests against NASA’s decision, triggering a procedural pause on SpaceX’s new contract. Among other things, the protests maintain that NASA should have picked two firms instead of one.
Amid a lobbying effort from Blue Origin, those calls have found their way into a NASA authorization bill, proposed as an amendment to the Endless Frontier Act by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Commerce Committee overseeing NASA. Cantwell represents Blue Origin’s home state of Washington. Under Cantwell’s language, NASA would be required to reopen the competition within 30 days and allow it to use $10 billion of its budget to pick a second lunar lander provider.
Under the terms of last month’s agreement, SpaceX is the sole contractor for NASA’s next two flights to the moon. These flights would use Starship, the company’s reusable rocket system. Bezos’ Blue Origin has received hundreds of millions of dollars in NASA and defense grants, despite never reaching orbit with a spacecraft.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.