Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin venture fleshes out plans for 2023 cargo delivery to the moon

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An artist’s conception shows the human landing system that’s being developed by Blue Origin and its industry partners in the foreground, and Blue Origin’s Blue Moon cargo lander in the far background. (Blue Origin Illustration)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture is working on a landing system that could put astronauts on the moon by as early as 2024 — but it’s also keeping its options open to deliver a ton of cargo to the lunar surface a year before that.

Blue Origin’s chief scientist, Steve Squyres, outlined the current state of plans for an Amazon-like cargo delivery to the moon today during a virtual symposium presented by the University of Washington’s Space Policy and Research Center.

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Jeff Bezos unveils a giant lunar lander that he says is ‘going to the moon’ and will help Blue Origin populate space

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Jeff Bezos shows off Blue Origin’s lunar lander concept, called Blue Moon, in Washington, DC, on May 9, 2019.
Dave Mosher/Business Insider

Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon, unveiled on Thursday a giant lunar lander concept by his spaceflight company, Blue Origin.

Called “Blue Moon,” the vehicle is designed to deliver a variety of types of payloads to the moon’s surface — including people at some point.

NASA said in April that it wants to fund a large, private lunar lander to get its astronauts to and from the moon, ideally as soon as 2024.

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Jeff Bezos predicts we’ll have 1 trillion humans in the solar system, and Blue Origin wants to help get us there

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Blue Origin’s aim is to lower the cost of access to space, Jeff Bezos said during a surprise appearance at Wired’s 25th anniversary conference.

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos provides the keynote address at the Air Force Association’s Annual Air, Space & Cyber Conference in Oxen Hill, MD, on September 19, 2018.

Blue Origin founder and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicts we’ll have 1 trillion humans in the solar system one day — and he laid out Monday how the rocket company plans to help get there.

“I won’t be alive to see the fulfillment of that long-term mission,” Bezos said at the Wired 25th anniversary summit in San Francisco. “We are starting to bump up against the absolute true fact that Earth is finite.”

Blue Origin’s aim is to lower the cost of access to space, Bezos said. He will spend a “little more” than $1 billion next year to support Blue Origin, he said.

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The race to get tourists to suborbital space is heating up

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SPACE: FINAL FRONTIER or ultimate tourist destination? Possibly both—provided you have the cash.

Already, you can buy tickets for (as-yet-unscheduled) flights aboard SpaceShipTwo, the crew vehicle developed by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. And at a NewSpace conference in Seattle last month, Blue Origin—helmed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos—announced that it has plans to sell tickets to wannabe space tourists as early as next year.

Both companies have solid plans to cash in on human space travel (and then, of course, there’s SpaceX, which will focus first on shuttling astronauts to and from the space station). Branson has said that Virgin Galactic is in a race with itself, not other companies, to achieve safe human space flight. But with Blue Origin aiming to start selling tickets next year, both companies could be competing for business sooner rather than later.

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Jeff Bezos’Blue Origin will start selling tickets to space next year

Blue Origin, the space-tourism startup owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, says it will start selling passenger tickets for trips into space in 2019.

The timeline came from Blue Origin senior vice president Rob Meyerson, whose comments at an Amazon Web Services event were reported by Space News. Meyerson did not say how much the tickets would cost when they go on sale.

The company also plans to conduct crewed test flights of its New Shepard rocket “soon” — meaning Bezos’s company could, at least by one metric, get a jump on rival SpaceX.

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Prime delivery, straight from the moon? Bezos dreams of heavy industry in space

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is convinced that one day “we are going to have to leave this planet.” And he believes that his Blue Origin space company can help make it happen.

Outlining his ambitious vision at the Space Development Conference in Los Angeles during a recent on-stage chat with GeekWire‘s Alan Boyle, Bezos said that, ideally, Blue Origin would collaborate with NASA or ESA, Europe’s space agency, to move toward his goal, though he said that if that doesn’t work out, his company would go it alone.

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