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

Town of Sylvan Lake passes 2019 tax rate, estimates education tax

Sylvan Lake and all municipalities have been left without an education tax from the Province

Town of Sylvan Lake to replace old water meters to streamline monthly billing

Town Council also approved replacing old water meters to the current technology

Drivers reminded impairment and driving don’t mix

National Road Safety Week May 14 to 20

Former Sylvan Lake resident launches latest book

Talena Winters will launch her book at the Sylvan Lake Municipal Library on Friday

Sylvan Lake bans use of charcoal barbecues in Town parks

Visitors and residents picnicking in Sylvan Lake are asked to leave the charcoal barbecues at home

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Growing wildfire prompts warning for High Level to prepare for evacuation

Town of High Level announced Monday that residents should get personal items in order

Carbon tax, desk-thumping on agenda in upcoming Alberta legislature session

Jason Kenney has appointed a panel to come up with ways to reduce spending in the budget this fall

Facebook takes down anti-vaxxer page that used image of late Canadian girl

Facebook said that the social media company has disabled the anti-vaccination page

Authorities warn out-of-control wildfire could cut northern Alberta town’s electricity

Alberta Transportation has closed Highway 35 south of High Level due to the fire

‘Rope-a-dope’: Environmentalists say Alberta war room threat won’t distract them

Those against Alberta Premier Jason Kenney aren’t worried about promise to fight critics of energy industry

Almost $13 million to be paid to Grande Prairie hospital subcontractors, others

No reasons for the Court of Queen’s Bench order were released

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Most Read