Space is truly the next frontier. Blue Origin, the company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has detailed its plans for a moon landing and space colonies. The company has also unveiled Blue Moon, the lunar lander vehicle which will be tasked with taking humans and equipment to the moon by the year 2024.
"It's time to go back to the Moon, this time to stay," says Jeff Bezos in an official statement shared with the media. “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,” said Blue Origin in an tweet announcing the Blue Moon project. The Blue Moon lunar lander will have enough fuel to get from Earth to the Moon and can deliver payloads to the lunar surface. It can also deploy up to four self-driving rovers, and launch satellites to orbit the Moon. The Blue Moon will weigh around 33,000 pounds when loaded with fuel on lift-off from Earth, which will decrease to about 7,000 pounds when it is about to land on the Moon. The engine expected to power the Blue Moon lander is called the BE-7 and takes the learnings for LH2/LOX propulsion, precision guidance, vertical landing and landing gear systems from the New Shephard launch vehicle.
The Blue Moon lander will be able autonomously navigate in space, and will be able to carry between 3.6 and 6.5 metric tons of payload on the surface of the Moon. It will also be able to carry up to four large rovers, for deployment on the moon’s surface. The Blue Moon's precision guidance and descent sensors will rely machine learning.
Blue Origin intends to land this near the moon’s south pole, where ice deposits have been found in craters. This is crucial since the hydrogen that can be derived from water formed by melted ice can then power the Blue Moon for further use. Jeff Bezos has said that Blue Origin has been developing Blue Moon for three years now, and could be ready to fire up the engine for the first time this summer.
Bezos also believes that while space travel is extremely costly right now since there is no infrastructure to speak of, he believes that space colonies which rotate to provide artificial gravity could be a practical solution for living in space. Bezos has presented the concepts of huge structures in space, which will be how the colonies would be, and they would be many times bigger than the International Space Station (ISS). They will have self-sustaining habitats, including greenery. If you have seen Mat Damon’s Elysium movie from the year 2013, you will get exactly what Bezos is hinting at in terms of how the space colonies will be made.
This announcement comes at a time when Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.