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The space agency awarded a launch services contract to Blue Origin and its “New Glenn” orbital launch vehicle that will allow the firm to compete for future NASA missions, officials announced Wednesday. The contract establishes Blue Origin as a potential supplier for planetary expeditions, Earth observation missions and satellite launches for NASA and other government agencies.
“We are proud to be in NASA’s launch services catalog and look forward to providing reliable launches for future NASA missions aboard New Glenn for years to come. The award builds on Blue Origin’s existing partnership with NASA and will advance science and exploration to benefit Earth,” said Jarrett Jones, senior vice president of Blue Origin’s New Glenn program.
Under the contract’s terms, Blue Origin’s New Glenn system is eligible for orders through June 2025 and missions through the end of 2027. Private contractors are required to meet NASA’s performance standards in order to compete for missions.
Blue Origin expects to launch the New Glenn system in 2021.
Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 and has funded the firm in part through sales of his personal Amazon stock holdings in recent years. The firm is considered a direct competitor to Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s private space initiative, SpaceX.
The Trump administration has pushed for increased collaboration between the public and privates sectors on future space missions. NASA has set a goal to return to the moon by 2024.