Not one to be left out, Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is also making plans to go to the Moon, just like fellow space magnate Elon Musk. Bezos’ plan, uncovered by The Washington Post via a draft proposal presented to NASA and Trump’s administration, outlines Blue Origin’s plan to create a cargo spacecraft destined for the Moon that would help it ferry supplies, experiments and even people to Earth’s largest natural satellite by around July 2020.
Bezos has a pretty keen grasp of terrestrial shipping via Amazon, so it makes sense that he would envision providing similar services at a lunar scale. The CEO told the Washington Post that he believes it’s time for the U.S. to not only make its way back to the Moon – but also to stick around this time, with the goal of establishing a “permanently inhabited lunar settlement.”
The Moon is on the mind of many at the moment: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced earlier this week that his company would be sending two private individuals in a crewed tourist mission around the Moon, with a target flight date of next year. Even sub-orbital space tourism is still taking its first shaky steps, relatively speaking, so that’s quite the leapfrog if Musk and co. can pull it off.
Blue Origin’s initial proposal focuses on getting the goods necessary to establish a permanent colony on the Moon, rather than zipping humans or tourists to the destination. And it also seeks resource commitment from NASA, both in terms of funding and expertise, though Bezos says in the proposal he’s more than happy to invest his own funds alongside those of the space agency.
In the white paper, the plan is to land the spacecraft at the Moon’s south pole, where there’s enough sunlight to power it via external solar panels, and where it has proximity to water ice, which is key for both human sustenance and the creation of rocket fuel. Its design could allow for flying 10,000 pounds of supplies and materials, and it’s intended to be usable with NASA’s own launch craft, the ULA’s Atlas V rocket or its own New Glenn rocket, which is still in development.
We’re a long way off from Amazon Prime same-day delivery to the Moon, but this is yet another sign that we’re headed towards a public-private space race which could user in a new boom in space exploration.