Jeff Bezos, the CEO of both Amazon and space company Blue Origin, unveiled their aerospace company is developing a lunar lander called Blue Moon, intended to transport equipment, and possibly human beings, to the south pole of the Moon by 2024.
Bezos said the company has been working on Blue Moon for the last three years since well before US vice president Mike Pence announced the directive for NASA to send humans to the moon in 2024.
“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.
On Thursday, it made that goal public with the announcement of its new Blue Moon lander, an unmanned aircraft that can carry up to 6.5 metric tons for deposit on the moon, allowing it to lay the framework for future human missions.
“It’s time to go back to the Moon, this time to stay,” Bezos said at the end of the event. A new lunar lander is a necessary first step.
“I think what he was able to do was to show that the lander has multiple capabilities, that it’s kind of a Swiss army knife,” says Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. It will be able to carry rovers, ascent vehicles to launch off the surface of the moon, and maybe even mining equipment, he says.
This fits in well with NASA’s plans, says space consultant Laura Forczyk. “They’re really trying to play up the obvious connection between what they’ve done at Blue Origin and NASA’s needs,” she says. “I do not see it as a competition with NASA, but I do see it as a bid for partnership with NASA.”