Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Plans To Carry ASU Payloads To The Moon
Jeff Bezos has announced long-term plans for his space company Blue Origin, and Arizona State University will be along for the ride.
The Amazon founder advocates going to space to save Earth, a vision that includes a permanent moon presence, off-world mining and eventual space habitats.
The company has previously said it could be ready to take tourists to the edge of space by the end of this year.
It will launch its new reusable rocket, the New Glen, in 2021.
Blue Origin aims to reduce operational costs by using reusable rockets that land vertically on the ground. New Glen's predecessor, New Shepherd, which reaches only the edge of space, has made nearly a dozen successful flights.
Bezos said Blue Origin would launch a lander and a rover to the moon.
He also announced plans to return humans to the lunar surface by 2024, in keeping with NASA's currently unfunded goal.
"I think it's feasible. I think the next couple of years are going to see so much activity going toward the moon. It's going to be incredibly exciting," said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, director of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, who attended the event.
ASU has signed a memorandum of understating with Blue Origin to send payloads to the lunar surface.
As part of his announcement, Bezos unveiled a mockup of the Blue Moon lunar lander, which will be able to deliver 3.6 metric tons to the surface.
A variant for human spaceflight will be capable of carrying a 6.5-metric-ton, human-rated ascent stage.
The lander can launch small CubeSat-style craft before landing. Once it touches down, it can use davits deploy up to four rovers.
Blue Origin's plan for lunar craft rely heavily on mining water ice from the moon. Consequently, its new BE-7 engine will need to run on combination of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.
Bezos said engineers could be ready to begin engine tests this summer.