The tussle over NASA funding for lunar touchdown programs has touched down within the Senate — with one main senator in search of further funding that would go to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin area enterprise, and one other main senator arguing in opposition to a “Bezos Bailout.”
The senator on the pro-funding facet is Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Her amendment to the Infinite Frontier Act may put Kent, Wash.-based Blue Origin and its area business companions again within the operating for billions of of NASA assist for his or her human touchdown system.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., is on the anti-funding facet: This week, he submitted an amendment that will “remove the multi-billion greenback Bezos Bailout.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders is leaping into NASA’s lunar lander fiasco with an modification that deletes the entire human touchdown system part from the NASA authorization invoice
“Objective: To remove the multi-billion greenback Bezos Bailout” pic.twitter.com/cTdVb44E4i
— Joey Roulette (@joroulette) May 24, 2021
This all has to do with NASA’s resolution final month to award a $2.9 billion contract to SpaceX for a Starship lunar lander that’s designed to hold astronauts to the lunar floor for the area company’s Artemis program, as early as 2024.
NASA had been contemplating proposals from SpaceX in addition to from Alabama-based Dynetics and the crew led by Blue Origin (which incorporates Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper). The optimum plan was to pick two aggressive proposals to go ahead, however NASA officers stated Congress didn’t acceptable sufficient cash for 2 groups. So that they went with SpaceX, which submitted the least costly plan.
In response, Blue Origin’s crew and Dynetics filed separate protests with the Authorities Accountability Workplace. The groups stated that their proposals didn’t get correct consideration, and that NASA ought to have dealt with the competitors in a different way with the funds it was given.
The GAO has till Aug. four to rule whether or not the award to SpaceX ought to stand or the competitors ought to be redone. Within the meantime, NASA has held up on the award.
Cantwell’s modification requires NASA to obtain greater than $10 billion in further funding for a second lunar lander contract and different infrastructure wants. Her language is a part of the model of the invoice cleared by her committee this month.
The truth that the additional cash may benefit an area program that’s principally headed by the world’s richest particular person drew the ire of Sanders, a longtime critic of Amazon, Bezos and different billionaires. Lobbyists for Blue Origin and SpaceX are additionally within the thick of the fray, as detailed by The Washington Post.
Figuring out the winner of this newest battle of the billionaires — pitting Bezos in opposition to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, America’s second-richest individual — will in all probability take months. Each homes of Congress need to approve authorizing laws in addition to an precise appropriation. And it’s unlikely that Congress will get all that executed earlier than the GAO’s ruling, which may reset the phrases of the competitors in August.
House Information’ Jeff Foust in all probability had it proper when he tweeted that there’s been “a whole lot of drama a few invoice unlikely to develop into legislation in something like its present kind.”