Jeff Bezos unveils ‘Blue Moon’ lunar lander from his Blue Origin space company
Blue Moon, a lunar landing vehicle, is seen after it was introduced by Jeff Bezos Fly me to the moon? You don’t have to ask Jeff Bezos twice.
The billionaire tycoon unveiled a lunar lander from his secretive space company Blue Origin for the first time on Thursday — as part of his big plan to send humans to the moon by 2024.
“This is an incredible vehicle and it’s going to the moon,” the jeans- and blazer-clad Amazon CEO said, as he gestured to the two-story-tall spacecraft mock-up.
Dubbed “Blue Moon,” the circular craft is capable of carrying four rovers and “multiple metric tons” of cargo. It is powered by a newly designed rocket engine called BE-7.
A version that can also transport people will follow and “enable a sustained human presence on the moon,” the company said.
The craft’s unveiling took place during a press conference in a dark Washington DC convention ballroom decorated with shimmering stars. Astronauts and space luminaries were also present.
Bezos, the richest man in the world, detailed his dreams that one day humans will live in elaborate space colonies, named “O’Neill colonies,” after American physicist Gerard K. O’Neill who came up with the idea.
He showed pictures of massive structures that would contain natural habitats, including one with a large reindeer looking over a winding lake and lush, rocky hills. Other renderings showed people living and working amid the stars.
But he said right now the “price of admission” to space was too high “because there’s no infrastructure.” He mentioned two important issues needed to fix that: reducing launch costs and using resources already in the atmosphere.
The goal is to land Blue Moon on the Moon’s south pole, where ice there could be exploited to produce hydrogen, which is used to power Blue Moon and could be used to fuel further exploration.
NASA has already set its sights on the moon’s south pole and Vice President Mike Pence in March called on the agency to send astronauts there by 2024 “by any means necessary.”
“I love this,” Bezos said of Pence’s timeline. “We can help meet that timeline but only because we started [working on Blue Moon] three years ago.
Blue Origin is also working on two other major projects: New Shepard, a rocket that will be used for space tourism, and New Glenn, a heavy-duty partly reusable launch rocket.
People will begin flying in New Shepard this year, Bezos said.
“It’s time to go back to the moon,” he said. “This time to stay.”