Published: Fri, May 10, 2019
Research | By Sheri Schwartz

Jeff Bezos Wants to Populate the Moon

Jeff Bezos Wants to Populate the Moon

Billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, founder of rocket company Blue Origin, unveiled on Thursday a mockup of a lunar lander spacecraft and discussed missions to the moon in a strategy tailored to the USA government's renewed push to establish a lunar outpost in just five years. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced earlier this year the agency plans to return astronauts to the moon within five years, but this time, to stay.

"This is Blue Moon", he said at a presentation in Washington, as curtains lifted to show a mock-up of a huge vessel weighing many tons and able to carry four self-driving rovers.

Deliveries to the moon would be required as part of a new push by the U.S. government to send American astronauts to the lunar south pole by 2024.

It will weigh more than three metric tons empty, 15 fully fueled, and be capable of carrying 3.6 tons to the lunar surface - or 6.5 in a variant model.

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States April 5, 2017. After it lands, Blue Moon will deploy a small rover. The company has been developing the technology for three years, Bezos said.

While Bezos is angling to become a leading player in space exploration and win business from the USA government, he has been the target of repeated criticism from President Donald Trump, who has referred to him as Jeff "Bozo".

Mr Bezos also unveiled a new rocket engine on Thursday, called BE-7, which is powered by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and has 4,535 kilograms of thrust. When one of its rockets crashed during a test flight in 2011, a week passed before Bezos acknowledged the failure. He also made a direct pitch to NASA and the White House - that this would help meet President Donald Trump's goal, stated by Vice President Mike Pence, to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024.

Bezos, intent on moving Blue Origin closer to commercialization, underscored his broader vision of enabling a future in which millions of people live and work in space. Observations by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) have indicated that the Shackleton Crater is likely 22 percent ice. It can land anywhere on the moon, and has enough power for long missions. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, and the other company he founded, Blue Origin LLC, want to chart the next chapter in humanity's exploration of its tiny orbiting sibling. He mentioned two important issues: reducing launch costs and using resources already in space.

"That's the path that we would be on", Bezos said.

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