A million-dollar deal struck between the Pentagon and Jeff Bezos’ space company is being evaluated as fresh fodder that will heat up the galactic battle between two rival U.S. tech titans.
Pentagon’s research and development arm DARPA on Monday awarded a $2.5 million contract to Blue Origin, an aerospace company founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Inc’s chief executive, to design a nuclear-powered spacecraft.
“Blue Origin is excited to support DARPA in maturing spacecraft concepts for this important technology area,” Brent Sherwood, the company’s senior vice president of advanced development programs, told CNBC in a statement.
General Atomics and Lockheed Martin also won Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awards under the agency’s Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program.
The main aim of the program is based on using a nuclear thermal propulsion system to power a spacecraft beyond low Earth orbit, according to the CNBC.
“This combination would give a DRACO spacecraft greater agility to implement the Department of Defense’s core tenet of rapid maneuver in cislunar space (between the Earth and moon),” the agency said.
The modern space race is marked by the well-known rivalry between two of the wealthiest tech moguls, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who have been engaging in a public spat over their ambitions in outer space for more than a decade.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk previously labeled Jeff Bezos as a “copycat” after he announced his purchase of self-driving car company Zoox, while the billionaire Amazon executive has mocked Musk's plan to send humans to Mars.