It was in September 2000, when Amazon Inc founder Jeff Bezos founded aerospace manufacturing and sub-orbital spaceflight services company Blue Origin LLC, with aims to develop a variety of technologies, with a focus on rocket-powered vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL) vehicles for access to suborbital and orbital space.
In an event on 9th May, Bezos revealed the mock-up of spacecraft named “Blue Moon”, which will land on lunar surface by 2024. Blue Origin, the company, has been working on Blue Moon spacecraft 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.
“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.
Designed for use on the Blue Moon mission by 2024, Blue Moon is essentially a robotic space cargo carrier that runs on Hydrogen and can make cargo deliveries to the Moon. Built to deliver science payloads, moon rovers and even astronauts to the lunar surface, the spacecraft can also deploy small satellites into lunar orbit as a “bonus mission” on the way.
Blue Moon is planned to be capable of delivering 4,500 kg (9,900 lb) to the surface of the Moon and can also be used as cargo vehicle to support NASA’s outer space activities, or transport payloads of ice from Shackleton Crater, an impact crater that lies at the south pole of the Moon, to support space activities.
The first projected mission for Blue Moon would be a 2024 lunar south pole landing. It is proposed that a series of landings could be used to deliver the infrastructure for a Moon base.
In his speech in the event, Bezos also make a strong suggestion of mining water from lunar ice deposits, as well as potentially harvesting solar power to the moon.
“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 said.