Amazon’s Bezos says he’ll send a spaceship to the moon

The announcement for the usually secretive space company came with all the glitz of an Apple product launch

Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos said Thursday he’s going to send a spaceship to the moon, joining a resurgence of lunar interest half a century after people first set foot there.

Bezos said his space company Blue Origin will land a robotic ship the size of a small house, capable of carrying four rovers and using a newly designed rocket engine and souped-up rockets. It would be followed by a version that could bring people to the moon along the same timeframe as NASA’s proposed 2024 return.

Bezos, who was dwarfed by his mock-up of the Blue Moon vehicle at his presentation Thursday, said, “This is an incredible vehicle and it’s going to the moon.”

He added: “It’s time to go back to the moon. This time to stay.”

The announcement for the usually secretive space company came with all the glitz of an Apple product launch in a darkened convention ballroom bedazzled with shimmering stars on its walls. Astronauts and other space luminaries sat in the audience under blue-tinted lighting before Bezos unveiled the boxy ship with four long and spindly landing legs.

READ MORE: SpaceX launches mega rocket, lands all 3 boosters

READ MORE: Trump signs order to create US Space Command

Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post, walked off the stage without providing details, including launch dates, customers and the plan for humans on his rockets. He spent more time talking about his dream of future generations living on orbiting space station colonies than on concrete details about Blue Origin missions.

Blue Origin officials gave conflicting answers to questions about when the company would land on the moon with and without people. Blue Origin Vice-President Clay Mowry said 2024 was not a concrete goal for a mission with people and said it was more up to NASA as a potential customer.

Former U.S. Rep. Robert Walker, a private space consultant who is working with Blue Origin, said it plans for a 2023 launch without people.

Blue Origin in 2017 revealed plans to send an unmanned, reusable rocket, capable of carrying 10,000 pounds (4,500 kilograms) of payload, to the moon. The company had a successful launch earlier this month, reusing one of its New Shepard rockets, which barely goes to the edge of space, for a fifth time.

The new moon race has a lower profile than the one in the 1960s. It involves private companies, new countries and a NASA return mission to place astronauts back on the lunar surface by 2024.

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

China has landed a rover on the moon’s far side. SpaceX last year announced plans to send a Japanese businessman around the moon in 2023. And the Israeli non-profit said it will give it a second shot.

The first successful moon landing was by the Soviet Union in 1966 with Luna 9, followed by the U.S. four months later. NASA put the first — and only — people on the moon in the Apollo program, starting with Apollo 11 in July 1969.

“The next leap in space will be fueled by commercial companies like Blue Origin and commercial innovation,” said former Obama White House space adviser Phil Larson, now an assistant dean of engineering at the University of Colorado.

Space companies have in the past made big announcements with goals that never came true.

Former NASA deputy administrator Dava Newman, an MIT professor working as a customer of Blue Origin, said this time it’s different. The new engine is the reason, she said, “it’s for real.”

___

Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Salmon Arm Minor Hockey takes initiative on mental health

Association embraces need for awareness, to host its own Mental Health Week

Shuswap Search and Rescue launches search for new recruits

Looking for people with time to commit, an enjoyment of outdoors who want to give back to community

Salmon Arm soapbox derby organizer makes donation to BC Children’s Hospital

The money raised from the annual event will go towards a pet petting program

Update: Fire extinguished in roof of Salmon Arm retirement residence

Residents being moved back to their apartments in Lakeside Manor from regional district building

Majority of North Okanagan-Shuswap school buildings in poor condition

School District #83 superintendent says facilities report can be used to apply for needed funding

Girl power glows in Vernon STEM workshop

More than 100 students take part in STEM4Girls event

Beers on the job, smacking crotches: 10 police misconduct probes in B.C.

Recent report by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner highlights a number of investigations

Seizure of cannabis edibles, including mac-and-cheese, prompt warning from B.C. RCMP

Potato chips, cheesecake and candy infused with cannabis also seized back in August

B.C. parents sue city and province in 12-year-old daughter’s drowning at lake

Beverly Park drowned at Rotary Lake in Dawson Creek in August 2016

Limited parking drives concerns for North Okanagan housing project

Public hearing scheduled for CMHA low-income expansion project proposal

Summerland curlers begin season on the ice

League action and bonspiels to continue into March

Penticton-bound plane forced to return to Vancouver

It’s the third flight in three weeks that has been unable to land at Penticton Regional Airport.

VIDEO: Chill with polar bears through an Arctic live cam

Cam reopens just ahead of Polar Bear Week

Most Read