Jeff Bezos unveils large lunar lander, 2024 launch plans


On May 8, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos held a press conference to unveil his Blue Moon lunar lander vehicle. The CEO made the announcement as part of a status update on his space exploration company Blue Origin. Bezos intends for the spacecraft to deliver supplies to the Moon that will help humanity establish a lunar colony.

The executive revealed the new lander is powered by liquid nitrogen and can harvest fuel from lunar ice water. Blue Origin created Blue Moon to transport robotic and infrastructural payloads but the firm has plans for more advanced operations.

Bezos announced his company designed a larger version of the lander that will facilitate crewed space missions starting in 2024.

“It’s time to go back to the moon, this time to stay,” declared the world’s richest man.

The New Space Race

The Amazon founder created Blue Origin in 2000 after viewing the space exploration-themed film “October Sky.” In doing so, Bezos joined fellow billionaires Richard Branson and Elon Musk in a new privatized space race. However, as opposed to his rivals, the New Mexico native’s company hasn’t made much headway in achieving its mission.

Blue Origin is planning to launch its two-stage rocket, New Glenn, in 2021. By comparison, Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 series of rocket ships have completed over 70 missions. Branson’s Virgin Galactic firm had a successful test flight for its passenger space rocket last December.

Despite its slow progress, Blue Origin might end up beating its competitors to become the first commercial space travel company. The firm intends to stage consumer suborbital flights later this year with tickets priced between $200,000 and $300,000. SpaceX has scheduled its first space tourism mission for 2023. Virgin Galactic intends to bring civilians to space in July to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch.

The world’s commercial space travel companies got a major boost in March thanks to the Trump administration. Vice President Mike Pence directed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to bring humanity back to the moon by 2024. At the time, the space agency intended to launch a crewed mission to the satellite in 2028. But the organization accelerated its timetable after Pence’s announcement.

Blue Origin and SpaceX have both inked agreements with NASA to develop new spacecraft.

Bezos vs. Musk

While the Blue Origin event was a positive affair, it did feature one unfortunate moment. It was reported that Bezos presented a slideshow that included a perceived dig at Musk’s plans to colonize Mars. One slide featuring the moon read “Round-trip on the order of years.” Another contained an image of the red planet and text reading, “No real-time communication.”

A Twitter user asked Musk what he thought of the Blue Moon presentation and he responded competition is good for the industry. The Tesla CEO also tweeted a doctored image of the Blue Moon that featured a reference to male sexual frustration.

It should be noted the Securities and Exchange Commission fined Musk $20 million for making a previous awful Twitter joke. Apparently, the agency sanction was not a strong enough sanction to convince the 48-year-old to grow up.