The richest man in the world, owner of Amazon and the rocket company Blue Origin, details his project that includes landings in less than five years.
“This is an incredible vehicle and will go to the Moon,” said Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, to unveil, in a Washington auditorium with the usual overproduction staged presentations of technological gurus, a model ship to land. “It’s time to return to the Moon, but this time to stay there,” he said.
Private space race – Jeff Bezos vs Elon Musk
The artifact has been baptized as Blue Moon. It is a kind of platform, with a white sphere inside and four legs like spiders. It will have an engine called BE-7, designed to perform all the complicated maneuvers that the moon landing requires. They have been working on the design for three years and the engine would be ready to be tested this summer. The goal is for the Blue Moon to reach the south pole of the Moon before 2024. The ship, Bezos has assured, already has six clients, including academic institutions.
The founder of Amazon, also owner of the space company Blue Origin, one of the actors of the effervescent private space race, picks up the glove of Vice President Mike Pence, who recently encouraged the sector to set the goal of sending astronauts back to the Luna from US soil before 2024. Bezos has not given any date for the first launch of his vehicle, but has said he would be ready to meet that goal set by the Donald Trump Administration. Last year, Blue Origin received $ 13 million from NASA to work on the technology of a ship to land. The US space agency has delegated to private companies its goal of sending astronauts to the International Space Station (and not depending on being carried by the Russians), as well as sending scientific experiments to the Moon.
Bezos has drawn in his speech his futuristic dream, consisting of billions of human beings living not only on moons and planets, but in space colonies. “It would be an incredible civilization,” said the businessman, who grew excited by the exploits of NASA since he was a child of five years, until the destination, and the eye for business, put in their hands the possibility of participating in the great dream of space. “I never thought I would have the resources to start a space company,” he acknowledged in an interview with The New York Times, “until I won a lottery ticket called Amazon.” In 2017 he announced that he would sell one billion dollars each year in Amazon shares to finance his space dream.
Bezos created Blue Origin no less than 20 years ago, and in 2005 he started developing space rockets. For years, the progress of his project has been surrounded by mystery, in a silence barely broken by sporadic tweets and videos of successful releases.
The same mystery surrounded the announcement of this Thursday. On April 26, Blue Origin launched an enigmatic tweet. An image of the Endurance, the ship in which Ernest Shackleton sailed to Antarctica in 1914, accompanied by four digits: “5.9.19”. On May 9, 2019, the date of this Thursday. The Endurance expedition failed, but its feat is a symbol of the epic explorer. The brief message was enough to make saliva fans of space and adventure: Shackleton gives name to a crater in the south pole of the Moon, where it is believed that there is ice, whose water molecules could be separated into hydrogen and oxygen to to manufacture rocket fuel that would explore new frontiers from there (taking off from the Moon requires much less energy than taking it from Earth).
Bezos assures us that his dream, like that of Elon Musk, the other billionaire fully involved in the private space race, goes beyond mere business. It is about the future of humanity. Energy consumption is unsustainable, but there is a lot of energy available elsewhere in the solar system. He dreams, apparently, to move all heavy industry into space.
At the moment, the plans are less ambitious, so to speak. In the medium term there is space tourism. Short trips from its operations center in Texas, not only to satisfy the whims of other millionaires, but to be able to do dozens of launches a year that allow advance in the technology for trips to the Moon. So far, Blue Origin has made 11 pitches. And he hopes to make the first manned space trips before the end of this year.