Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin announced its first lunar lander, Blue Moon, at a press conference today.
The lander has been “years in development,” according to the company’s new project webpage, and can reportedly land “multiple metric tons” of payload onto the Moon’s surface.
“Its capability to provide precise and soft landings will enable a sustained human presence on the Moon,” the Blue Origin website claims.
Bezos unveiled the lander alongside a new rocket engine at a press event in Washington, DC, today. He said felt confident that Blue Origin could meet the 2024 lunar landing deadline recently set by Vice President Mike Pence, CNBC reported.
Though less well-known that Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Blue Origin shares similar goals—to build private-sector infrastructure to lower costs and increase access to space travel. That includes reusable rockets, such as the suborbital New Shepard and the heavy-lifting New Glenn. Bezos has also set his sights on futuristic goals like colonising other worlds and mining asteroids.
The announcement comes on the heels of Vice President Pence’s directive that NASA should put American astronauts onto the Moon within the next five years by any means necessary. Some have expressed scepticism that NASA will be able to achieve the goal; members of Congress expressed frustration at a hearing yesterday that they had not yet received an updated budget request to take the mission into account.
No doubt, partnerships with the private sector will be crucial for NASA to meet the 2024 deadline.
We’ve reached out to Blue Origin to get more details on the new lander and will continue following this story.