In particular, SpaceX has thrived in this new business approach to spacecraft. Its Falcon 9 rocket, used for space station missions, is currently a horse for launching commercial satellites. And its Crew Dragon capsule, which carried a third number of NASA astronauts to the space station on Friday, will also be used for the travels of wealthy, paid space travelers.
Blue Origin lags behind SpaceX’s performance. Its small, successfully tested spacecraft New Shepard meant only short flights, suborbital flights. A larger New Glenn rocket currently in development will compete with SpaceX and other rocket companies to bring satellites into orbit, but it won’t make its maiden flight until at least 2022, two years later than originally announced.
However, Blue Origin’s partners have decades of experience in the space industry.
NASA announced the lunar lander competition in 2018, and officials have repeatedly said they want to choose more than one company to ensure competition to drive innovation and redundancy. Last September, Jim Bridenstine, then a NASA administrator, testified that he would be worried if NASA chose only one lander design.
“When you eliminate competition,” he told a Senate subcommittee, “you will end up with programs that will inevitably be pulled out and you will have to pay excess costs and delays in schedule”.
However, for the current fiscal year, Congress provides only $ 850 million – a quarter of the amount Bridenstine and NASA ask for for the development of the lunar lander.
When NASA officials announced SpaceX as the sole winner, they argued that the limited budget influenced the decision. Kathy Lueders, deputy chief executive and human exploration officer at NASA, said choosing a company to build the first lunar lander was “the best strategy” at the moment.
In the competition rules, NASA made no promises to choose two companies or even any. Instead, according to the document, the agency said it is planning to choose up to two companies.