Space

Jeff Bezos unveils Blue Origin lunar lander and ambitious vision for space colonization

Jeff Bezos unveils Blue Origin...
Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Moon in Washington DC, along with the incredibly ambitious goal of the company: to help enable nothing less than the eventual building of orbital space colonies
Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Moon in Washington DC, along with the incredibly ambitious goal of the company: to help enable nothing less than the eventual building of orbital space colonies
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The BE-7 engine
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The BE-7 engine
Diagram of the BE-7 engine
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Diagram of the BE-7 engine
The basic Blue Moon lander configuration
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The basic Blue Moon lander configuration
The Blue Moon is designed for a permanent human presence on the Moon
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The Blue Moon is designed for a permanent human presence on the Moon
The larger Blue Moon with ascent stage
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The larger Blue Moon with ascent stage
Blue Moon carrying a pressurized manned rover
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Blue Moon carrying a pressurized manned rover
The interior of an L5 colony as envisioned by Blue Origin
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The interior of an L5 colony as envisioned by Blue Origin
Blue Moon is desgined as a first step toward building L5 colonies
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Blue Moon is desgined as a first step toward building L5 colonies
L5 colonies would be used to house most of the human population
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L5 colonies would be used to house most of the human population
A park inside an L5 colony
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A park inside an L5 colony
Farms inside an L5 colony
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Farms inside an L5 colony
Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Moon in Washington DC, along with the incredibly ambitious goal of the company: to help enable nothing less than the eventual building of orbital space colonies
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Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Moon in Washington DC, along with the incredibly ambitious goal of the company: to help enable nothing less than the eventual building of orbital space colonies

Blue Origin has unveiled a multi-purpose lunar lander, declaring it will be able to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. At an invitation-only media event in Washington DC on Thursday, Blue Origin founder and CEO Jeff Bezos showed off a full-scale mock-up of the Blue Moon lander, which he says is capable of delivering 3.6 tonnes of cargo to the lunar surface and will be the basis for a larger manned version capable of carrying 6.5 tonnes.

Blue Origin has been notoriously tight-lipped about its plans, but on Thursday Bezos revealed the incredibly ambitious long-range goal of the company: to help enable nothing less than the eventual building of orbital space colonies several generations from now. These would be designed to house millions of people and provide them with an abundance of energy and industrial goods.

In support of creating the infrastructure for this, the man behind Amazon explained why the New Shepard rocket that is scheduled to carry passengers on suborbital flights into space later year is designed the way it is. He said that the reason the booster uses liquid hydrogen and oxygen as fuel, lands vertically, and is built with the ability to carry out multiple flights with minimal refurbishment is not only to pave the way for the much larger New Glenn booster, but also as the basis for a new class of large lunar landers.

The Blue Moon is designed for a permanent human presence on the Moon
The Blue Moon is designed for a permanent human presence on the Moon

The result of three years of development to date, Blue Moon looks like an enlarged version of the old Apollo Lunar Module that placed the first men on the Moon in 1969. It's an octagonal structure on four legs, standing about 18 ft (5.5 m) high. The top deck is flat for carrying a variety of payloads and is equipped with naval-style davits to lower cargo to the surface upon landing.

To reach the Moon, Blue Moon is designed to fit inside the upper payload stage of the New Glenn rocket. It has star trackers for translunar navigation, high-bandwidth laser and radio communications, and lidar for terrain navigation that uses machine learning to allow it land within 75 ft (23 m) of its target. In addition, there are side payload bays to deploy satellites into lunar orbit.

Bezos says that the larger "stretched" version of Blue Moon is man-rated and will be equipped with an ascent stage to return the astronauts to lunar orbit or some other destination.

The basic Blue Moon lander configuration
The basic Blue Moon lander configuration

Key to both versions is the new BE-7 engine, which was also unveiled at the event. This liquid hydrogen and oxygen-fueled rocket acts as the Blue Moon's descent engine, generating up to 10,000 lb of thrust during its six-minute primary descent burn. It's mostly 3D printed and has deep throttling capability. Also the liquid hydrogen serves as more than fuel. The boil off is used to cool the liquid oxygen, then feeds into a fuel cell system, where it creates 2.5 kW of electricity to power the craft and to help it survive the two-week lunar nights.

During the presentation, Bezos alluded to US Vice President Pence's announcement that the United States plans to return astronauts to the Moon within five years. Bezos said that is the time frame in which he expects Blue Moon to do exactly that.

The video below is a replay of the Blue Moon debut.

Source: Blue Origin

Going to Space to Benefit Earth (Full Event Replay)

7 comments
guzmanchinky
This is amazing! But I feel we should focus on this planet first. We should solve free unlimited electricity, self driving crashless vehicles and cures for cancer, obesity, heart disease and mental diseases before we hang out on the moon...
fredmadden
Laudable sentiments for sure. We have only one planet at this point. This should not stop us from trying to get off it. The problem is that mankind is to stupid to have any self control. Must breed and must consume meaningless consumer products. Maybe we should stop developing cancer cures, safe self driving vehicles and cures for all the illnesses that Mother Nature had in place to control our population because we sure as hell can't do it for ourselves. Look at his plans. Millions in space stations. And when things go pear shaped as space stations with millions on board will do, where are they all going to go? Back to good old over populated Mother Earth. Cool idea! Lets go to Mars and import water so we can grow stuff there and live. There is plenty in the ocean. I see a Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy solution here. Lets fund him!
Bob Stuart
Why not just move to a dry valley in Antartica? It's a lot more hospitable. Thinking about space makes it easy to write off seven billion earthlings in the mess left behind from launching.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
The Chinese are seriously considering getting He3 from the Moon. It would be worth about $12000/lb in today's money. It will probably be the Moon's first export. This will cause a space trade explosion. A rail gun launcher will make this very profitable.
TomLeeM
I think that is a great goal. People will have jobs making the equipment for the trip. Like NASA - that has made technology that was for the space program but had applications for the public / used to help man - they could be doing the same thing. It is great that space travel isn't reliant on just one group. Like ships, if one is in danger, other ships come to help.
Colt12
First the New Glenn needs to do a few orbits around the earth to prove it worthy.
ReservoirPup
but he'll be remembered as the founder of A....