Credit: Blue Origin/Blue Moon

 

Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame and fortune detailed his company’s Blue Moon plans for flying cargo and crew to the Moon. The lunar strategy of the Bezos-backed Blue Origin group was revealed May 9 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Credit: Blue Origin/Blue Moon

Blue Moon is a flexible lander that can deliver a wide variety of small, medium and large payloads to the Moon’s surface. “Its capability to provide precise and soft landings will enable a sustained human presence on the Moon,” according to Blue Origin’s website, now populated with details of the Blue Moon venture.

Credit: Blue Origin/Blue Moon

The Blue Moon lander can deliver large infrastructure payloads with high accuracy to pre-position systems for future missions. “The larger variant of Blue Moon has been designed to land an ascent vehicle that will allow us to return Americans to the Moon by 2024,” explains the Blue Origin website.

Credit: Blue Origin/Blue Moon

Science advisory board

Meanwhile, Inside Outer Space has been advised about the members of a Science Advisory Board for the Blue Origin lunar transportation service:

  • Bradley Jolliff, the Scott Rudolph Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis
  • Apollo 17’s Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, geologist and former New Mexico Senator
  • Dean Eppler, a former geologist at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas and a participant in field tests of experimental spacesuits as part of the Desert RATS program
  • Jeffrey Taylor of the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at the University of Hawai‘i
  • Steve Squyres, professor of astronomy at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
  • Ryan Watkins, a Planetary Science Institute research scientist in Tucson, Arizona

Science Advisory Board members are consultants to Blue Origin, not full-time employees.

Credit: Blue Origin/Blue Moon

 

Feedback

In a statement from Watkins, she described the role of the advisory group:

“My role has been to provide feedback regarding the Blue Moon lander design and landing site selection. The Board members provide feedback on their subsystem designs and payload capabilities,” Watkins said.

“My expertise has mainly been on landing site selection and some general feedback related to plume effects during landing – but at this stage we are all providing any kind of input we can regarding what we think is feasible and reasonable for their design concepts, from a science perspective,” Watkins added.

New Shepard reusable booster design has undergone a series of flights.
Credit: Blue Origin/Screengrab Inside Outer Space

Building on New Shepard

According to Blue Origin’s website: Years in development, the lander can deliver payloads to the lunar surface, host payloads and even deploy payloads during its journey to the Moon.

Its technology builds on the experience gained with the New Shepard reusable booster, with respect to LH2/LOX propulsion, precision guidance, vertical landing and landing gear systems.

Jeff Bezos with students at Washington, D.C. event.
Credit: Blue Origin/Blue Moon

Metric tons

Blue Moon can land multiple metric tons of payload on the lunar surface.

The top deck and lower bays easily accommodate a wide variety of payloads, including large payloads and ESPA-class payloads with standard ring port interfaces.

ESPA stands for EELV Secondary Payload Adapter – a payload adapter ring for launching secondary payloads.

Credit: NASA

Day/night duration

There are lower mounting locations for payloads on the lunar lander, useful for closer access to the lunar surface and off-loading. The Blue Moon lander will provide kilowatts of power to payloads using its fuel cells, allowing for long mission durations and the ability to last through the lunar night.

Lastly, Blue Moon’s precision guidance and descent sensors are to utilize machine learning technology to accurately land anywhere on the lunar surface, starting with its first mission.

Jeff Bezos has previously identified Shackleton crater as an ideal locale to establish a base camp, a sun-shy feature thought loaded with water-ice for exploitation purposes and also a site that offers near-constant sun light at the crater’s rim.

Video of the May 9, 2019 event with Jeff Bezos discussing his vision to go to space to benefit Earth is available here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ98hGUe6FM&feature=youtu.be

For information on Blue Moon, go to:

https://www.blueorigin.com/blue-moon

Leave a Reply