Yesterday, Wednesday, June 9th, the US Senate voted on one of the most important changes in the race for the world. To fully understand this budget extension that the House of Lords granted NASA, we need to go back a few months when the battle raged between SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Dynetics.
These three private companies will then compete for the production of the lander, which will be used by NASA on the first two manned missions to the moon, due to take place in 2024. The project is colossal. Washington intends to approve the development of two of the three prototypes in mid-April, so an initial sorting must be carried out by Bill Nelson’s teams.
But a few days before the announcement, NASA changed course. Under the pretext of budget problems – the agency actually received a quarter of the subsidies requested – it was forced to keep only one idea. To everyone’s surprise, SpaceX and the Starship were declared big winners on April 16 and received the resulting envelope of $ 2.9 billion.
A judgment that sparked much discussion and was poorly understood by Blue Origin and Dynetics executives Jeff Bezos. Given the scolding of the Amazon boss, NASA’s decision was quickly put on hold, the time when GAO (the American equivalent of the Court of Auditors) will not conduct its investigation.
The latter is expected to end on Aug. 4, but this week’s Senate vote may have just choked the matter down. By granting this budget extension to NASA, the agency could very well select a second project and thereby satisfy Blue Origin.
Blue Moon vs. Starship
Because this fight for a return to the moon is very important, also for SpaceX, which could assert its place as a new power in the world of even stronger New spacethan for Blue Origin. Until then, the company of Jeff Bezos is gradually falling behind and intends to double the company of Elon Musk again.
In response to requests from NASA, the two companies came with very different projects anyway. If SpaceX’s Starship is a real spaceship, in the shape of a warhead as conventionally represented by pop culture, Blue Origin’s prototype, called the Blue Moon, is far more exotic. Blue Moon is less imposing than its competitor and remains an interesting candidate for the program. Artemis.
The decision therefore rests with the GAO. If the latter backs Blue Origin’s arguments, NASA will have no choice but to start its competition from scratch or almost from scratch. The 2024 date, which is already very difficult to keep, will then become a sweet utopia. On the contrary, if GAO takes sides with NASA and SpaceX, the lunar program could meet its schedule, at least not accumulating further delays.
It would still be a major blow to Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, who would find it difficult to recover from that scorching loss to SpaceX. See you next August 4th for the GAO ruling. Until then, the two companies will continue to develop their products, SpaceX can carry out new tests of the Starship. The flight schedule for Blue Origin is also very full, the first tourist flight into space is scheduled for July 20, with Jeff Bezos personally on board the capsule.