U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is looking to push NASA to rethink its decision to choose only Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build the lunar lander for its Artemis moon program.
Senator Maria Cantwell wants to push NASA to reconsider its decision to reject the Blue Origin space company of Amazon Inc. founder Jeff Bezos for the lunar landing program.
Cantwell, a Democrat representing Amazon’s home state in Washington, plans to add an amendment to a package of legislation aimed at strengthening U.S. competitiveness with China that authorizes $ 10 billion for NASA by 2026 to carry out the program, which will allow other companies to participate.
“The administrator will maintain competitiveness within the human landing system program by funding design, development, testing, and evaluation for no less than two entities,” according to a draft of the amendment obtained by Bloomberg News.
The Senate Trade Committee is working on legislation Wednesday and has yet to vote on the full package of amendments. Blue Origin did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
NASA’s Artemis program aims to develop a landing system capable of landing astronauts on the moon’s surface as early as 2024. Last month NASA chose Elon Musk’s Space X for the initial 2,900 contract. million, excluding Blue Origin and Dynetics Inc., based in Huntsville, Alabama. , which Leidos Holdings Inc. acquired last year.
The agency had wanted to select two teams for the project, but changed course after Congress did not allocate enough money for the project.
Both Blue Origin and Dynetics filed protests at the Government Accountability Office, challenging NASA’s decision to select Space X. GAO typically has 100 days to make a determination, making August 4 the deadline for the decision.
Cantwell telegraphed his disapproval of the lack of competition during former Senator Bill Nelson’s confirmation hearing to become NASA administrator.
“NASA has a long tradition of ensuring resilience in commercial programs by using multiple competitors and maintaining what is called different redundancy,” Cantwell said during the hearing. “So I want to know that you will commit to quickly providing Congress with a plan to ensure this kind of resistance from the Human Lander program.”
NASA also announced that it is studying a program to continue the space X demonstration.
“NASA is taking steps to establish a regular cadence of manned missions to the surface of the Moon as part of the Artemis program,” according to a press release. “The agency recently made a selection for a manned demonstration to land the next American astronauts on the lunar surface and is now looking at the industry again, this time for long-term lunar landing services for crews. from the end of the 2020s “.