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Bezos’ $2bn offer to get back in race to the Moon

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Jeff Bezos has offered to cover $2bn (£1.4bn) of Nasa costs in order to be reconsidered for a key contract to build a Moon landing vehicle.

Blue Origin lander
The design developed by Blue Origin in partnership with aerospace giants was called “Blue Moon.

In April, the space agency awarded the $2.9bn contract to Elon Musk, rejecting a bid from Bezos’ company Blue Origin.

The award is for building the landing system that will carry astronauts down to the lunar surface as early as 2024.

Nasa could only award the contract to one company, not two as expected because of a funding shortfall.

The space agency had received only $850m of the $3.3bn it requested from Congress to build the Moon lander.

In a letter to Nasa’s administrator Bill Nelson, released on Monday, Mr Bezos wrote: “Blue Origin will bridge the HLS [Human Landing System] budgetary funding shortfall by waiving all payments in the current and next two government fiscal years up to $2bn to get the programme back on track right now.

“This offer is not a deferral, but is an outright and permanent waiver of those payments.”

Mark Bezos (L) and Jeff Bezos
Mr Bezos flew to space with his brother Mark (L) last week, in the first crewed flight of his New Shepard spacecraft

At the time of the award, Nasa’s human exploration chief Kathy Lueders admitted that the space agency’s current budget precluded it from selecting two companies.

Nasa also cited the proven record of orbital missions by Elon Musk’s SpaceX firm as a factor in the award. Cost is also thought to have played a role: SpaceX’s bid was the lowest-priced by some distance.

The decision meant that SpaceX’s cylindrical Starship vehicle would carry the astronauts in Nasa’s first mission to the lunar surface since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Alabama-based defence contractor Dynetics was also vying for the contract.

Bezos had partnered with aerospace giants Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper in a bid to join this crucial phase of Nasa’s Human Landing System programme.

Starship on Moon
SpaceX’s winning bid will use an adapted version of its Starship vehicle to land astronauts on the Moon

Their design was named the Blue Moon lander, and bore a passing resemblance to a beefed-up version of the lunar module (LM) that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface in 1969.

In his letter, Bezos emphasised Blue Moon’s proven heritage: “We created a 21st Century lunar landing system inspired by the well-characterised Apollo architecture – an architecture with many benefits. One of its important benefits is that it prioritizes safety.”

Musk’s Starship has pushed the envelope of spacecraft design, employing a radical approach to landing and incorporating innovative methane-fuel.

Bezos also used his letter to emphasise Blue Origin’s use of hydrogen fuel, which dovetails with Nasa’s longer-term aims of refuelling spacecraft from water-ice mined on the Moon. The water can be split into hydrogen and oxygen propellant for rocket engines.

In Nasa’s selection statement from April, SpaceX received an “acceptable” technical rating and an “outstanding” management rating. Blue Origin’s bid was also rated “acceptable” on its technical merits but its management rating was deemed “very good” by the space agency.

After losing out to SpaceX, Blue Origin filed a protest with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), alleging Nasa unfairly “moved the goalposts at the last minute” in the way that it awarded the contract to SpaceX.

That protest, along with one from Dynetics, is awaiting adjudication, although some in the space community regard the chances of a reversal as unlikely.

Source:(BBC)


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Breaking: Ganduje appoints new Emir of Gaya

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Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State has in the early hours of Sunday appointed Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim-Gaya as the new emir of Gaya.

Ibrahim-Gaya succeeded his late father, Alhaji Ibrahim Abdulkadir who died at the age of 91 years after protracted illness.

The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Usman Alhaji announced the appointment on behalf of the Governor.

More to come…


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Tanks head for Kosovo-Serb border as Balkans tensions grow

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A Kosovo security unit trooper guards the border with Serbia as the Balkan nations trade accusations.
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Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti has accused neighbouring Serbia of “provoking a serious international conflict”, with tensions between the two countries at their highest for years.

In the latest flashpoint, two interior ministry offices in northern Kosovo were on Saturday attacked near border crossings blocked by local Serbs angered by a ban on cars with Serbian licence plates entering the country.

The car registration office in the town of Zubin Potok was set ablaze, and two hand grenades were thrown at the civil registration office in the nearby town of Zvecan, though they did not go off, police said.

There was no mention of any casualties.

Serbs from Kosovo’s north have blocked two main roads near the border since the government ban went into force on Monday.

Drivers from Serbia must now use temporary printed registration details that are valid for 60 days.

The Kosovo government says its move mirrors measures in force in Serbia against drivers from Kosovo since 2008, when Kosovo declared independence from their neighbour.

Serb fighter planes flew close to the border crossing of Jarinje where protesters cheered them. A day before, three helicopters also flew in the vicinity.

Media in Belgrade reported that tanks and other military equipment were heading towards the border, but the Serb army did not give any details.

NATO’s mission in Kosovo, where peacekeepers maintain a fragile peace, called for restraint.

Source: (NewDaily)


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Anthony Joshua breaks his silence after devastating defeat to Oleksandr Usyk

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Joshua was outclassed by Usyk at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
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Anthony Joshua is determined to stay positive after his devastating world title defeat to Oleksandr Usyk on Saturday.

Usyk turned in a boxing masterclass to take the IBF, WBO and WBA heavyweight titles, dethroning Joshua in his own back yard at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Joshua immediately left the ring after the Ukrainian’s unanimous decision win and was taken to hospital to be assessed after taking damage to his right eye during the contest.

But he wrote on Twitter: ‘Keep positive even if the world’s crumbling in front of you!

London I love you and thank you each and every time

A rematch clause will give Joshua the chance to reclaim his titles but promoter Eddie Hearn has warned big changes are needed if he is to avenge the loss.

The fighter in AJ is already talking about winning the rematch.

‘It was a tough defeat. I had it reasonably close in the eighth and then Usyk ran away with it. If that happens again, he will get beat again.

‘Usyk’s confidence will be sky high. He has to impose himself but when you get to the level of AJ, there are no 10-round comeback fights or warm ups.

‘You are straight into the fight. He will be an underdog in that rematch.

‘He chose to take on a pound for pound great tonight, and it didn’t work out. He deserves credit for that but this is sport.’

Source: (Metro News)


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