Space race: Blue Origin just won a major contract with NASA

Not yet a subscriber? Sign up free below.


On Friday, NASA announced that it had selected a group led by Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin, to develop a moon lander for the Artemis program. The project will cost more than $7bn in total, with the NASA contract worth $3.5bn and Blue Origin contributing more than $3.4bn in order to build the 50-foot-tall spacecraft.

The Artemis program, led by NASA with its partners in Europe, Japan and Canada, has one main goal; to get astronauts back on the moon — a feat not accomplished since Apollo 17 more than 5 decades ago. Artemis is well underway following the successful Artemis I mission in 2022, which saw an uncrewed Orion spacecraft orbit the moon. The mission is set to be replicated in 2024, this time with a crew onboard.

Private launch

NASA's decision to award the contract to Blue Origin's team, which includes collaboration with industry giants like Lockheed Martin and Boeing, comes after two deals with Elon Musk's SpaceX for its Starship lander. Indeed, the latest deal is indicative of a more commercially collaborative NASA that has been increasing its reliance on the private sector, licensing a record-breaking 79 commercial launches last year.

SpaceX being chosen ahead of Blue Origin sparked court drama in 2021 as Bezos' company sued the US government for unfairly favoring Musk's company, claiming it would have been better to have chosen two companies. With the latest news, SpaceX — which has done more private launches than any other company — is now slated to conduct the inaugural lunar landing for Artemis in late 2025. Blue Origin crews will have to wait until 2029 for the Artemis V mission.

Not yet a subscriber? Sign up free below.


Stories from this newsletter

Space race: Blue Origin just won a major contract with NASA
The X-date: The US treasury is running out of money
Substitute slowdown: Beyond Meat's sales are stalling, and now the company is being sued
We and our partners use cookies and similar technologies (“Cookies”) on our website and in our newsletters for performance, analytical or advertising purposes to ensure you have the best experience on our site and/or interaction with us. To find out more about the use of Cookies, see our Cookie Notice. Please click OK if you consent to our use of Cookies or click Manage my Preferences to manage your Cookie preferences.