Blue Origin will supply the lunar lander for the third crewed Artemis mission to land astronauts on the moon. NASA announced Friday that the company, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has been awarded a $3.5 billion contract to develop the lunar lander it dubbed Blue Moon. The project is expected to cost more the $7 billion total and Blue Origin will be spending billions more than its half share of the lander total to build a permanent base on the moon. “We want to establish permanence on the moon,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “And we want to ensure we have consistent access to the moon.”
Blue Origin was a losing bidder to SpaceX for a contract for the first two crewed landings on the moon and it unsuccessfully sued NASA because the original concept of the Artemis program was to include landers from two different companies. A judge upheld the NASA decision, which was taken for cost considerations, but NASA has since received more budget for the moon project and changed its mind. The Blue Origin craft is much different from the modified silo-like Starship lander that SpaceX will use. Blue Moon is about half the height of the huge SpaceX vehicle with elements of the original Apollo program lander influencing its design. The first Blue Moon Mission is slated for 2028.