Today, Jeff Bezos presented the design of the lunar vehicle of his space flight company, the Blue Moon, which can carry scientific charges, and eventually humans, to the surface of the Moon. Bezos said his company, Blue Origin, has been working on the design for the lander module for the past three years.
"This is an incredible vehicle, and it goes to the Moon," Bezos said after unveiling a model of the Blue Moon landing vehicle at the Washington, DC Convention Center. Members of the press and the space industry were present to see the revelation. The event opened with a video of the original Apollo 11 mission, which took the first astronauts to the surface of the Moon. "If that does not inspire you, you're in the wrong event," Bezos said.
The Blue Moon lander will be able to navigate autonomously in space and gently land between 3.6 and 6.5 metric tons of payload on the surface of the Moon. According to Bezos, it is capable of transporting up to 4 large rovers simultaneously, or a "climb stage", which can take off from the vehicle and eventually take people away from the surface of the Moon. Bezos also revealed a new engine for the landing module that Blue Origin has been developing, called BE-7. He said the company will carry out its first ignition test this summer.
The Moon is an attractive destination these days for many, not just Blue Origin. The Trump administration has made it clear that it wants NASA to send humans back to the Moon; In March, Vice President Mike Pence challenged the space agency to land the first woman on the lunar surface by 2024. "I love it," Bezos said of Pence's challenge. "It is right". NASA has not yet submitted a proposed budget and plan for this accelerated lunar return, but the agency will definitely need new equipment and vehicles, in particular, a lander to take humans to and from the Moon.
Today's announcement was a way in which Bezos was able to show the company's plans to reach the Moon within the same period of time that NASA is watching. "We can help meet that timeline, but only because we started three years ago," Bezos said. However, he did not say when the lander would fly for the first time.
Before today's event, Blue Origin mocked the ad with an image of the explorer Ernest Shackleton's famous ship, Endurance, as a nod to Shackleton's crater on the Moon. In a white paper of 2017, the company detailed plans to obtain Blue Moon at the site, according to The Washington Post . While Bezos did not announce a landing spot for Blue Moon today, in the past, representatives of Blue Origin declared before Congress the unique advantages of Shackleton crater.
Shackleton crater is located at the south pole of the Moon, which is potentially home to a very valuable space resource: water ice. Water ice is particularly tempting for space explorers, especially if it is found abundantly on the Moon. It could potentially be exploited and converted to rocket fuel and drinking water, which could help maintain a human presence on the lunar surface.
"One of the most important things we know about the Moon today is that there is water there," said Bezos. "It's in the form of ice, it's in permanently shaded craters at the poles of the Moon, and water is an incredibly valuable resource."
In fact, it is essential for the design of the BE-7 that will boost the Blue Moon landing module, which runs on liquid hydrogen. "We are using liquid hydrogen because, ultimately, we can get hydrogen from that water on the Moon and be able to refuel these vehicles on the surface of the Moon," said Bezos.
While Bezos did talk about the merits of going to the Moon for his resources, and also the first part of his announcement he presented in which he presented a great vision of the future of humanity. He said he would like to see the creation of O'Neill cilinders & # 39; or giant space stations with artificial gravity, capable of hosting millions of people or complete landscapes in space. This is not the first time you mentioned that concept. Bezos framed all these plans in the service of a broader objective: to inspire future generations.
"What I am presenting here today is obviously a vision of multiple generations," said Bezos. "This is not going to be done by a single generation, one of the things we have to do is inspire future generations."