WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – Nasa has awarded billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX a US$2.9 billion (S$3.8 billion) contract to build a spacecraft to fly astronauts to the moon, bypassing Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defence contractor Dynetics, the Washington Post reported on Friday (April 16).
The bid by Tesla chief Musk beat one from Amazon.com’s founder Jeff Bezos, who had partnered with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper, the report added.
Bezos also owns the Washington Post.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this week, the rocket company announced it had raised about US$1.16 billion in equity financing.
Last year, SpaceX, Blue Origin and Dynetics had landed a contract with Nasa to build lunar landing systems that can carry astronauts to the moon by 2024, the White House’s accelerated deadline under the space agency’s moon-to-Mars campaign.
Unlike the Apollo moon landing that happened more than 50 years ago, Nasa is gearing up for a long-term presence on Earth’s satellite that the agency says will eventually enable humans to reach Mars, leaning heavily on private companies built around shared visions for space exploration.