Billionaire Bezos unveils moon lander mockup, embraces Trump's lunar timetable

Eric Berger 
Meet the Blue Moon lander

Jeff Bezos, the founder of U.S. privately-funded space company Blue Origin and e-commerce giant Amazon, has revealed the concept of the Blue Moon lander which will be able to bring missions and cargo to Earth's natural satellite. A larger variant of the lander, now in development, can land an ascent vehicle which will allow the company to send humans to the moon and bring them back by 2024.

In his speech, Mr Bezos said that Blue Origin would be able to meet Trump's deadline, but "only because" the firm had begun designing the lunar lander in 2016.

Blue Moon is capable of transporting "multiple metric tons of payload" to the Moon's surface, which, as demonstrated in the company's announcement video, can include rovers and other robotics equipment.

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, stood on a blue-lit stage last night to unveil a delivery vehicle capable of shipping packages to addresses the US Postal Service can not reach. It will be capable of carrying scientific instruments and also rovers for humans.

While a $30 million prize for private companies to send robotic probes to the moon went unclaimed a year ago, one of the competitors, from an Israeli private nonprofit, crashed last month as it tried to land.

"It's time to go back to the moon, this time to stay", Bezos said.

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"A very fundamental long-range problem is that we will run out of energy on Earth", Bezos said at the event.

The White House's intention to return to the Moon in 2024 has sent Nasa into a frenzy of activity, because that particular mission was originally anticipated for 2028. Blue Origin will test fire the BE-7 rocket engine for the first time later this summer.

And Blue origin aims to do the same, with a massive heavy-lift rocket called New Glenn (named for astronaut and later senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth). Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which Trump has frequently targeted in his broadsides against the news media.

The vehicle will use liquid hydrogen as a fuel, Bezos continued, adding that it would allow refueling Blue Moon on the lunar surface with the liquid hydrogen got from the water on the Moon. It plans to launch the powerful space vehicle from Cape Canaveral. Bezos is likely to frame his strategy to align with that timeline in a bid to attract funds from the United States space agency, one of the people said. "It's in the permanently shadowed craters on the poles of the moon".

Though less well-known that Elon Musk's SpaceX, Blue Origin shares similar goals-to build private-sector infrastructure to lower costs and increase access to space travel.

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