Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

The Sciences

Bezos Unveils Bold Plans for Human Spaceflight, Plus a 'Blue Moon' Lander

blueorigin_bluemoon_ascent-1024x576.jpg

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Jeff Bezos unveiled the Blue Moon Lander today at a press event. (Credit: Blue Origin) On Thursday, Blue Origin founder and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos unveiled the Blue Moon lander, a spacecraft that can deliver up to 6.5 tons of cargo – and possibly crew – to the lunar surface. The announcement was made at a news conference in Washington, D.C. Along with Blue Moon, he revealed his new BE-7 rocket for the lander, which he says has been in development for three years. If all goes according to plan, the company will test fire the rocket for the first time this summer. Together, Bezos sees these developments as a way to return humans to the moon’s surface, “this time to stay.” The White House has vowed to do exactly that, returning humans to the lunar surface by 2024, and Bezos says his lander is one way to accomplish that goal. It's a bold claim for a spacecraft company that's only reached the edge of space – and never fully orbited. But the company says it's poised to make spaceflight history. Blue Origin’s more familiar spacecraft, the New Shepherd, is designed to take humans on suborbital flights. Bezos had previously announced a crewed launch on the rocket in 2019, and on Thursday, he re-committed to doing so this summer. [embed]https://twitter.com/SciGuySpace/status/1126585360526581767[/embed] While New Shepherd has been undergoing tests for years, it would be an impressive feat in light of SpaceX and Boeing’s recent claims and setbacks. However, SpaceX and Boeing have successfully flown cargo to the International Space Station multiple times, while Blue Origin isn't scheduled to make it to Earth orbit until 2021. That's when they plan to launch the New Glenn, a two-stage rocket with a reusable first-stage. Eventually, this craft could carry both crew and cargo – lots of it – into space. But that first flight is still a few years off.

blueorigin_bluemoon_topdeck-300x169.jpg

Blue Moon lunar lander. (Credit: Blue Origin) To take humans even farther, Bezos discussed a version of the Blue Moon Lander that could carry a crew capsule. Bezos also shared his full, longterm vision of space and lunar exploration during today’s event, including O’Neill cylinders, an idea long-beloved by space settlement enthusiasts. These would be self-sustaining space stations complete with gravity, thanks to the effects of rotation. If this year sees both a test fire of the new BE-7 and a successful crewed flight of New Shepherd, then Blue Origin will be well on its way to take the next very large step in human spaceflight.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In