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Jeff Bezos, Fresh From Space, Offers to Waive $2 Billion for NASA Moon Contract

Jeff Bezos

offered to waive $2 billion in fees over the next two years to win his space company, Blue Origin LLC, a joint contract for the NASA lunar-lander program that was awarded solely to

Elon Musk’s


The billionaire founder of Inc. said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration should return to an original plan to dual source its Artemis program that aims to return U.S. astronauts to the moon’s surface this decade. The agency awarded SpaceX the contract after opting to go with a single supplier due to budget constraints.

In an open letter Monday to Bill Nelson, NASA’s administrator, Mr. Bezos said his fee-waiving offer would remove those constraints.

“I believe this mission is important. I am honored to offer these contributions and am grateful to be in a financial position to be able to do so,” Mr. Bezos said.

He added that Blue Origin would be able to achieve a human moon landing in 2024.

Mr. Bezos’s appeal came a week after he traveled into space, as Blue Origin, into which he has poured billions, strives to open space travel to high-net-worth individuals.

Amazon founder and former CEO Jeff Bezos successfully completed the first manned mission of Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft. In this video, WSJ looks back at the remarkable career of the world’s richest man. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

“Blue Origin is committed to building a future where millions of people live and work in space to benefit the Earth,” Mr. Bezos said. “We are convinced that, to advance America’s future in space, NASA must now quickly and assuredly return to the Moon.”

SpaceX won the $2.9 billion Artemis contract in April, beating out bids by both Blue Origin and a unit of Virginia-based

Leidos Holdings Inc.,

which provides scientific and technological services. The arrangement expanded SpaceX’s relationship with NASA, which is already contracting its Falcon 9 rockets to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.

It is unclear if NASA can or would seriously consider any new formal offer. Blue Origin previously contested the contract award with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. NASA, citing litigation related to protests on file with the GAO, said it couldn’t comment on Mr. Bezos’ letter.

Space X wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Mr. Bezos’s move is the latest parry among a small group of billionaires who have been vying to commercialize space. They have assumed a role in space exploration, and space-related business, that until recently was reserved for governments and longtime government contractors.

Space X is ferrying astronauts to the ISS for NASA, for instance, while

Boeing Co.

, one of the world’s largest aeronautical firms, has struggled with its program to compete for that mission. NASA is hoping a successful test flight this week of Boeing’s Starliner space capsule will provide the sort of competition for the ISS service that Mr. Bezos is proposing for the agency’s moon mission.

Mr. Bezos has needled another billionaire,

Richard Branson,

over their competing space-tourism ventures. Mr. Branson’s

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc.

sent its founder to space 10 days ahead of Mr. Bezos. Blue Orbit, meanwhile, has made the fact that it goes higher than Virgin Galactic voyages’s part of its marketing message. Mr. Musk’s Space X also hopes to send tourists to space.

Write to Benjamin Katz at

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