Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mr. Bezos Goes to the Moon

          By Brian Orlotti

On May 9th, Kent WA based Blue Origin, a private space firm company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos—revealed at an invite-only event in Washington DC its plans to send a lunar lander named Blue Moon to the Moon’s south pole.

Offering images of teeming, free-floating O’Neill space cylinders, Bezos’ ambition has drawn admiration, skepticism and cynicism alike.

Looking liked an amped-up Apollo lunar module designed by Syd Mead, the Blue Moon will be capable of autonomous navigation and delivering 3.6 to 6.5 metric tons of payload to the Moon’s surface.

Blue Moon can also carry as many as four large rovers, or an "ascent stage," which can launch from the lander to transport people off the Lunar surface. the surface of the Moon. The lander will use a newly developed engine called the BE-7, which will see its first ignition test this summer.

Blue Origin’s target, Shackleton Crater, is an area of both scientific interest as well as a source of two settlement-enabling resources; water and steady sunlight.

Lunar water, useful for drinking water as well as making rocket fuel, was first discovered in the 1990’s by NASA’s Lunar crater observation and sensing satellite (LCROSS) and more recently confirmed by India’s Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. This water consists of ice deposits residing in the dark areas of craters, like Shackleton, where temperatures do not rise above -156 degrees Celsius.

The ice, likely mixed in with surface soil, could be present in quantities between 10 thousand and a hundred million tons at the Lunar south pole alone.  The lunar poles are also areas of lengthy (though not constant) sunlight, ideal for powering a lunar base via solar energy.

As noted in the May 13th, 2019 post, "Billionaire Star Wars: Bezos' Blue Origin is now hiring more than Musk's SpaceX," Bezos has ramped up the hiring at Blue Origin. Graphic c/o Thinknum Open Dataset.

The Bezos presentation was likely an attempt to position Blue Origin as the vendor of choice for contracts expected to be issued by NASA over the next few months to support US President Donald Trump's plan to return American astronauts to the Moon by 2024.

While this might not sit well with some of the more entrenched, traditional and "cost-plus" focused NASA subcontractors over the short term, it is the best opportunity for Bezos and Blue Origin to become a major industry player in the space industry. 
Brian Orlotti.

Brian Orlotti is a network operator at the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), a not-for-profit network service provider to the education and research sectors.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page