If Elon Musk thought he had the sole lock on building NASA's next lunar landing vehicle, there may be a new wrench in the works. In April, the space agency announced it was offering Musk's SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build the spacecraft that will take the next set of astronauts to the moon as part of its Artemis project, despite initial indications it would let multiple companies compete. At the time of its surprise decision, NASA said cost issues led to it going with SpaceX alone. Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin protested when the news came out, but now, still pumped up after his journey into space last week, Bezos is sweetening the pot for NASA, offering the agency up to $2 billion if it goes back to its original plan to dual-source the project, per CNN Business. "NASA should embrace its original strategy of competition," Bezos wrote Monday to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in an open letter.
He added: "Without competition, NASA's short-term and long-term lunar ambitions will be delayed, will ultimately cost more, and won't serve the national interest." Bezos vowed in the letter to cover the agency's "funding shortfall" for its lunar Human Landing System by "waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2B to get the program back on track right now." He noted his offer wasn't a postponement of payment, but an "outright and permanent waiver." Bezos also said in his letter that Blue Origin would pony up the funds for "any system development cost overruns, and shield NASA from partner cost escalation concerns," making the additional promise that Blue Origin would get humans on the moon by 2024, per the Wall Street Journal. (Read more Jeff Bezos stories.)