May 10, 2019 10:15 AM EDT
The commercial space race is heating up, with the likes of Elon Musk's SpaceX, as well as JAXA's partnership with Toyota and of course, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic all vying for the title to be the first commercial company in space. Let's not forget Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin, who just recently revealed a lunar lander that he said would be used to transport equipment and astronauts, to the south pole of the Moon with a target date of sometime in 2024. "This is Blue Moon," he said at a presentation in Washington, as a representation of a massive vessel that can supposedly carry four self-driving rovers was unveiled. "It's an incredible vehicle, and it will go to the Moon," he declared. "The vehicle has been under development for the past three years," he added. "It will be capable of carrying scientific instruments and also rovers for humans."
Today, our founder shared our vision to go to space to benefit Earth. We must return to the Moon—this time to stay. We’re ready to support @NASA in getting there by 2024 with #bluemoon. pic.twitter.com/UqQyMa9Zcn — Blue Origin (@blueorigin) May 9, 2019
Mr. Bezos, who also heads American juggernaut company Amazon, said that Blue Origin plans to land Blue Moon on the Moon's south pole, where ice deposits were confirmed in 2018. Water can be used to create hydrogen, which in turn could fuel future exploration of the solar system.
With a full tank of fuel, Blue Moon will weigh roughly 33,000 pounds or 15,000 kilograms, which will drop to about 7,000 pounds as it descends for the lunar landing, he said. Bezos did not reveal a specific date for the project's first launch, but said the lander would be in ready in time to make President Donald Trump's announced timeline to return Americans to the Moon by 2024. "We can help meet that timeline, but only because we started three years ago," he said. "It's time to go back to the Moon, this time to stay."
The announcement came as Bezos outlined his broader vision to build an infrastructure that would sustain the colonization of space by future generations of humans and shift polluting industries off the Earth. This would involve the construction in space of artificial worlds inspired by designs first proposed by the late physicist Gerard K. O'Neill, one of Bezos' heroes.
Blue Origin is currently working on two other chief projects: New Shepard, a suborbital rocket to transport tourists into space; and New Glenn, a somewhat reusable launch rocket. Bezos has committed to flying space-bound people in New Shepard this year, and New Glenn in 2021. The New Shepard rocket first went to space last year, unmanned, reaching a height of nearly 70 miles in April 2018.
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