Politics

Senate Preparing $10 Billion Bailout Fund For Jeff Bezos Space Firm

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Now that Jeff Bezos’s space flight company Blue Origin has lost a multibillion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Congress is prepping the ground for Bezos to win a contract anyway, ordering NASA to make not one but two awards.

The order would come through the Endless Frontier Act, a bill to beef up resources for science and technology research that’s being debated on the Senate floor this week. An amendment was added to that legislation by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., to hand over $10 billion to NASA — money that most likely would go to Blue Origin, a company that’s headquartered in Cantwell’s home state.

Cantwell’s amendment is no sure bet though: Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., introduced a last-minute amendment Monday to eliminate the $10 billion. “It does not make a lot of sense to me that we would provide billions of dollars to a company owned by the wealthiest guy in America,” Sanders told The Intercept Tuesday.

The Bezos space company had been competing against SpaceX for a contract to put astronauts on the moon, the first such trips since 1972, but lost the bidding process with a price tag twice that of SpaceX. NASA announced the award to the Elon Musk-owned company last month.

Cantwell’s measure wouldn’t rescind the grant to SpaceX but would create an additional contract that Bezos’s company would be in line to win. A third company, Dynetics, had also bid for the moonshot, but the author of the new amendment offers a strong suggestion of which company it’s likely to benefit.

Cantwell told NASA’s incoming administrator, former Sen. Bill Nelson, that she was surprised at the way the award unfolded, before introducing the legislation to add a new one.

“I think there needs to be redundancy,” or multiple contractors in case one fails, she told Nelson at his confirmation hearing. “And it has to be clear this process can’t be redundancy later. It has to be redundancy now.”

The measure has been attached to the Endless Frontier Act as part of a manager’s amendment and authorizes $10.032 billion through the year 2026 for the moon program. Authorization alone does not fun… (Read more)

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