Moon tourists? Space company of Amazon boss signs deals with multiple companies for moon landers
Blue Origin, the space exploration company of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has signed deals with a number of companies for a lunar landing system.
The partnership deals means that Blue Origin no longer plans to build its giant lunar lander (called the Blue Moon lunar lander) for NASA by itself.
Instead it has partnered up Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, to jointly develop a lunar landing system for the space agency capable of taking humans to and from the Moon’s surface.
It is an expensive business exploring space.
In 2017 Bezos sold 1 million shares worth a staggering $940.74million (£727m) as he continued to plough funds into space venture. He has admitted he sells about $1bn (£773m) in Amazon stock per year to fund Blue Origin.
Bezos has made not secret of the fact that his space exploration firm that takes most of his investment.
“I’m excited to announce that we put together a national team to go back to the moon,” Bezos, was quoted by Reuters as saying at the International Astronautical Congress.
Blue Origin is the lead contractor, and all four companies aim to to submit a proposal for the moon lander to NASA under its Artemis lunar programme.
NASA’s Artemis program had originally planned to perform the first landing for Artemis in 2028.
But in March this year, US Vice President Mike Pence challenged NASA to speed up its timeline by four years.
The space agency responded to this accelerated timeframe by handing out contracts for the key vehicles needed for the mission. At the end of September NASA officially put out a call for moon lander designs, with submissions due by 1 November.
Bezos reportedly called the partnerships a “national team” whose history in space exploration fits the Blue Moon’s mission.
The three other firms are space veterans. Lockheed for example is said to be separately developing the moon-bound astronaut capsule named Orion.
Northrop meanwhile helped NASA build the Apollo lunar landers in the 1960s.
Draper is a not-for-profit research and development organisation, and it built NASA’s navigation computers for Apollo lunar landers.
The Blue Origin mission is to build “a road to space with our reusable launch vehicles,” but initially the firm aims to send tourists on brief flights into suborbital space where they can experience weightlessness and gain a view of the Earth.
And it is not as if Bezos does not have any competition here.