On Thursday, May 9, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin finally presented its first lunar lander, dubbed Blue Moon, to the public.
During an exclusive event, the richest man in the world discussed all the ways that the vehicle can enable scientific exploration of the lunar surface. It is designed to deliver payloads and rovers to the Moon and even eventually ferry astronauts to the natural satellite.
How Blue Origin's Blue Moon Works
According to Bezos, Blue Origin's lunar lander is capable of carrying over 14,000 pounds of payload to the surface of the Moon. The payload can be spread between different compartments, including the top deck and lower bays which can accommodate large cargo.
It also has a crane-like contraption known as the davit system to drop off different types of payloads, including up to four rovers, on the lunar surface simultaneously.
A crew version was also designed to return American astronauts back to the Moon by 2024.
The lunar lander has a liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen fueled, restartable, throttleable engine called BE-7. It makes over 10,000 pounds of thrust, almost exactly the same as the descent stage engine of the old Apollo lunar lander, noted Jalopnik.
Unlike Apollo, however, Blue Moon has smaller landing pads. Bezos explained that the original engineers of the Apollo lunar landers gave the vehicle oversized landing pads because they were not sure how dense the lunar surface would be, but the ground was a lot more solid than they initially thought.
Moreover, Blue Moon is equipped with precision guidance and the descent sensors, which utilize machine learning technology so that it can accurately land anywhere on the Moon.
"Now that we have mapped the entire moon in great detail, we can use those preexisting maps to tell the system what it should be looking for in terms of craters and other features, and it navigates relative to that," Bezos stated at the presentation. "It uses the actual terrain of the moon as guideposts."
Blue Origin's Long Journey To The Moon And The Universe
Bezos founded Blue Origin nearly two decades ago to expand the presence of humans in the universe. Colonizing the Moon is only part one of a bigger plan to become a spacefaring race.
However, despite the threat of radiation and meteorites, there is an important reason why the Amazon CEO wants to colonize Earth's natural satellite.
During his speech last Thursday, Bezos explained that if the population and energy consumption of Earth continues to grow, there will be a point that available resources will not be enough to sustain every single person on the planet. He also mentioned the immediate threats of climate change, pollution, and poverty.
"We will run out of energy on Earth," he stated. "This is just arithmetic, it's going to happen... if we move out into the universe, for all practical purposes, we have unlimited resources."