For all of the technological marvel of SpaceX, the public’s awareness of the company helps it power ahead.
Elon Musk has nearly 60 million followers, thanks to both the wonder of his vertical-landing, reusable rockets, and the extensive catalogue of must-see fireballs shared on social media.
Contrast that to Jeff Bezos, who is richer and whose company, Blue Origin, predates SpaceX. Blue Origin achieved vertical-landing before SpaceX, too. Alas, Bezos commands a mere 2.5 million followers on Twitter.
And so, perhaps, he is learning how the current space race is a bit of a popular mobilization effort. Despite his considerable achievement and investment, Musk stands, in the public’s mind, as the primary space pioneer.
That could explain Bezos’ decision to take the battle to participate in the NASA contract to build a lunar lander public.
Bezos has offered to waive up to $US2 billion in NASA contract fees to remain involved in the project.
Somewhat surprisingly, he did this by appealing to the public through an open letter on the Blue Origin site.
“Instead of investing in two competing lunar landers as originally intended, the Agency chose to confer a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar head start to SpaceX. That decision broke the mold of NASA’s successful commercial space programs by putting an end to meaningful competition for years to come.”
Full letter here.