Bezos’ Blue Origin Just Took a Huge Swing at SpaceX

They said SpaceX tech is 'immensely complex and high risk.'
Brad Bergan
Jeff Bezos, CEO Blue Origin.Seattle City Council / Wikimedia

Jeff Bezos is not happy about SpaceX's NASA deal.

Blue Origin continued its criticism of NASA's decision to award Elon Musk's SpaceX as the sole recipient of a major contract to build a vehicle to return astronauts to the moon's surface, in the wake of the government's denial of Blue Origin's official protest last week, according to a new infographic on the company's website.

Blue Origin thinks SpaceX's Starship is a risky investment for NASA

The new infographic was spotted on Wednesday, according to a CNBC report, and it describes the idea of using SpaceX's Starship to transport and land NASA astronauts on the lunar surface as an "immensely complex & high risk" system. This is quite the accusation, but Blue Origin seems to base its new criticism on an earlier evaluation of Starship for the lunar landing program made by NASA officials. "There are an unprecedented number of technologies, developments, and operations that have never been done before for Starship to land on the moon," Blue Origin wrote.

Bezos Mad
Blue Origin's new infographic, which strongly criticizes SpaceX's Starship system for NASA's lunar lander program. Source: Blue Origin

This comes on the heels of NASA offering a $2.9 billion contract for the Human Landing System program to SpaceX, alone. Blue Origin was initially one of the candidates for this contract, and, upon learning it wasn't named, it released a three-page document where it describes NASA's decision as "wrong for America's leadership in space" and restated earlier criticisms of the U.S. space agency for running "an inconsistent and unfair competition", despite receiving a ruling from a congressional watchdog that NASA did nothing wrong. "NASA ran a flawed acquisition and ignored the significant risks of a one provider model," wrote Bezos' private aerospace firm.

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Blue Origin has yet to reach orbit

Obviously, Blue Origin isn't doing this for show. It wants NASA to award a second contract for the Human Landing System, so it, too, may put humans back on the moon. The agency said it will offer forthcoming HLS contracts through the Lunar Exploration Transportation Services awards, but these contracts will only (only!) go for $45 million or less apiece. The new infographic emphasizes a comparison between SpaceX's moon-version of the Starlink, and Blue Origin's lunar lander concept, which appears and functions much more like earlier lunar landers from NASA. Bezos' space company also criticized SpaceX's Texas facility, saying it has "never conducted an orbital launch."

This neglects to mention the more than 100 successful orbital launches SpaceX has already executed via the Falcon 9 rockets. Blue Origin's complaint also conveniently forgot to mention something even more obvious: Bezos' company has yet to reach orbit, at all. Meanwhile, SpaceX is nearing its first orbital launch attempt of Starship, in the wake of a successful high-altitude launch and landing of the spacecraft in May of this year. Despite this, Blue Origin continued its criticism, saying that SpaceX's 126 ft-high exit hatch requires an elevator for egress, whereas Blue Origin's, at 32 ft, calls only for a ladder. Whether Bezos' company will get what it wants, not to mention the possibility of Elon Musk firing back with more than a flex emoji, it remains a fact that SpaceX's bid, at $2.9 billion, is technically cheaper than Blue Origin's initial bid, at $5.99 billion.