After SpaceX won a multi-billion dollar contract for the lunar mission last month, the US Senate is looking into whether Jeff Bezos’s company can still bid a contract.
Formally it is not about state aid, but the political magic does not seem to differ much from it. After Blue Origin lost a significant contract with NASA last month, there is an amendment to award a second contract worth ten billion dollars. That was submitted by Maria Cantwell, a Democratic senator from Washington, where Blue Origin’s headquarters are.
The amendment is subject to a broader law providing resources for science and technology research. But detractors, such as Bernie Sanders, say it would be illogical to award the company of the richest man in the world such an additional contract.
The Intercept, which discovered news of the amendment, argues that the scheme is very similar to an aid measure. While a third party, Dynetics, was competing for the space contract, it appears to be tailor-made for Blue Origin. The site also notes that Blue Origin spent $ 625,000 on lobbying in the first three months of this year alone.
At the same time, such a second contract would add little. It would be a backup in case SpaceX was dropped for some reason. NASA itself does not comment on those plans.