Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Blue Origin Gets Potential Lifeline in NASA Lunar Lander Competition

By Lou Whiteman - May 12, 2021 at 5:49PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

A U.S. senator has suggested adding funding to allow for two winners.

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin was dealt a blow last month when NASA selected rival SpaceX for a $2.9 billion lunar lander contract. But if one U.S. senator has her way, the Amazon founder's space company could get another shot at the award.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, has introduced legislation to authorize an additional $10 billion to NASA's Artemis moon landing program. The funding, which would run through fiscal year 2026, also calls for NASA to pick a second lunar lander candidate.

NASA would seemingly be open to such an arrangement. The agency had originally intended to pick two winners to ensure redundancy, but said it instead went solely with Elon Musk's SpaceX due to budgetary concerns.

Aerial view of a Blue Origin rocket landing.

Blue Origin's New Shepard Booster landing back on Earth. Image source: Blue Origin.

Kathryn Lueders, the head of NASA's human spaceflight program, said in the 24-page statement explaining the decision that the agency had to change course on plans for the human landing system (HLS) due in part to the amount of money allocated by Congress.

Blue Origin's bid came in higher than SpaceX but was below the proposal submitted by Leidos Holdings' (LDOS 1.69%) subsidiary Dynetics, according to Lueders, so the company would presumably be in a strong position if a second vendor is awarded a contract. But the losing bidders have also complained that they were not given adequate information from NASA in order to prepare their best offers, and it is possible that NASA would reopen the competition instead of just selecting a second winner.

It is also far from certain Cantwell's proposal will be backed by Congress. Artemis was a priority of the previous administration, but so far President Joe Biden has appeared more focused on other priorities, and it is unclear how much support added NASA funding would have in Congress.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Lou Whiteman owns shares of Leidos Holdings. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon and short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Leidos Holdings, Inc. Stock Quote
Leidos Holdings, Inc.
$99.82 (1.69%) $1.66

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/12/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.