Although when talking about space exploration and private companies, everyone thinks of SpaceX, we must not forget others that, like Blue Origin, also have ambitious plans regarding the development of various activities outside our planet. It is normal, of course, that Elon Musk’s company makes the headlines, as it has been the first in many things, including bringing humans into space, and it also plays with the extra asset of the enormous popularity of its founder. But, what has been said, the panorama regarding the presence of private companies in the space race is much richer and more interesting.
The latest and clearest example of this we have in Blue Origin, the company founded by Jeff Bezos, the creator of Amazon, and which for years has had a set goal, and it is a rather ambitious goal: the Moon. Bezos already said it in 2018: «Time to go back to the moon, this time to stay« at the presentation of the Blue Moon lander, a vehicle with which it intended to reach our satellite in 2024, but which according to we know today from Slashgear could be brought forward a year to 2023.
Let us remember that one of NASA’s main objectives today is to return to the Moon, and that is that after the cancellation of the Apollo program, human beings have never stepped on it again. Thus, the Artemis project proposes the objective that 2024 is the year we return to our satellite. And this would explain the rationale behind Blue Origin moving its plans forward a year.
The contribution of Blue Origin to the Artemis project passes, as I mentioned before, through the Blue Moon lander, a cargo ship capable of landing on the lunar surface carrying a significant load of supplies, which will provide great support to the first astronauts to set foot on the Moon in 2024. But in addition to that, the mission would also serve as a kind of eGeneral rehearsal for the first manned mission to the Moon for about half a century. And, although at the time traveling to the satellite was classified as something routine, that is probably one of the words that worst define that trip.
Regarding the mission itself, the Blue Origin lander is capable of carrying up to one ton of cargo which would include emergency supplies, tools, spare parts, and a rover for Artemis astronauts to use on the surface. Having a vehicle with this capacity, and that can make multiple deliveries to the lunar surface, both scheduled and especially emergency, would be a very important asset in considering the possibility of establishing a permanent base on the Moon.
There is, at the moment, no evidence that NASA and Blue Origin have signed any contract. However, it is possible that there are informal contacts between the two organizations, otherwise it seems tremendously risky for Blue Origin to launch a project of this type. Be that as it may, it seems that the Moon is once again as “close” as it was in the late 1960s, when the list of the great explorers in our history added Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.