When you think about space rockets, some of the major contributors that come to mind are NASA and SpaceX; but there are a lot of smaller companies out there that are trying to get into the space rocket business, such as Blue Origin and Rocket Lab, to name a few. Despite being the smaller guys, however, we shouldn’t underestimate their potential.
Blue Origin, a rocket startup founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, received well-deserved praise just this past week after unveiling what appears to be a conceptual lunar lander spacecraft at a conference at the Washington Convention Center. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the announcement garnered attention from NASA and other potential customers with lunar-centric goals alike.
Image Credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Blue Origin came up with a snazzy name for its upcoming lunar-centric spacecraft too. Dubbed Blue Moon, the reusable space vehicle would be powered by a new type of engine called the BE-7, which purportedly boasts a respectable 10,000 pounds of thrust.
As Bezos explains, the Blue Moon lander will be incredibly versatile; it was designed for both crewed and uncrewed missions, and this is something that should be particularly appealing to NASA since the American space agency is slowly inching closer to its eventual goal of returning to the Moon to conduct lunar science.
Here’s a concept video of Blue Moon, demonstrating Blue Origin’s vision for the spacecraft:
Blue Moon would be very useful for space agencies and commercial space companies alike because it would open a new door for lunar exploration. It’s roomy enough to support a bevy of different payloads in a single shipment, including smaller surface landers, autonomous rovers, and Moon-orbiting satellites, among others.
Bezos left no rock unturned in his sales pitch, attempting to sell the Blue Moon concept to potential buyers like NASA, who are currently being pressured to meet Moon-centric deadlines by the White House by 2024. Bezos explained that because Blue Moon has been under development since 2016, that Blue Origin would be able to help NASA meet its deadline.
Given all the SLS rocket delays that NASA continues to contend with, and the recent anomaly involving one of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules during a static fire test, Blue Origin’s sales pitch couldn’t have come at a more convenient time. In fact, that might’ve even been Bezos’ reasoning for unveiling the Blue Moon concept at this particular point in time – quite clever if that is so.
From what we can tell, Blue Moon aims to be a technologically-advanced option for space agencies and commercial space companies to explore the Moon, and it should be interesting to see whether NASA or any other significant customers will bite on Bezos’ sales pitch.
Moreover, having more options for space travel increases competition in the aerospace industry; this means we could see reduced space travel costs in the foreseeable future. Only time will tell, however…