Blue Origin ready to support NASA lunar missions with Blue Moon
COLORADO SPRINGS — If NASA’s human spaceflight program is redirected back to the Moon, Blue Origin is ready to support it with its proposed “Blue Moon” lunar lander system, company president Robert Meyerson said April 5.
Blue Moon can “cost effectively soft-land large amounts of mass onto the lunar surface,” Meyerson said at the 33rd Space Symposium here, his first public comments about the system since its existence was first reported in March by the Washington Post. “Any credible first lunar settlement is going to require such a capability.”
The lander, he said, would be part of a “space transfer and lunar lander architecture, leveraging Blue and NASA technologies,” he said. “Blue Moon directly leverages our New Shepard proven vertical takeoff and vertical landing technology, combined with our extensive liquid propulsion capabilities to reduce development time and risk.”
Blue Origin would be willing to invest in development of the Blue Moon system as part of a partnership with NASA, Meyerson said, envisioning regular delivery of resources and supplies to a potential lunar colony to augment NASA missions launched by the agency’s own Space Launch System.
“The more NASA flies SLS, the more they will need commercial logistics delivery services,” he said. “New Glenn and Blue Origin and Blue Moon compliment SLS and Orion, enabling NASA’s return to the moon, and this time to stay.”
NASA’s current human spaceflight plans do not include human missions to the lunar surface. Instead, NASA has outlined an an architecture that calls for the development of a human-tended facility in cislunar space, called the Deep Space Gateway, by the mid-2020s intended to support testing of technologies needed for human missions to Mars in the 2030s.
However, other nations have expressed interest in human missions to the moon, and the Deep Space Gateway could support such missions. “The goal is to see what we can prove out in the area around the moon and work with our international partners to see what we can do on the surface of the moon,” NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot said of NASA’s plans here April 4, adding that such cooperation would be extended to commercial partners as well.
The proposed Blue Moon design would be optimized to fly on SLS, but could also launch aboard other rockets including United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 and Blue Origin’s own New Glenn rocket, he said.
Lunar missions fit into the vision of company founder Jeff Bezos, who frequently talks about a future with an extensive human presence beyond Earth. “The lunar surface offers valuable resources with valuable science return and can serve as a location to demonstrate key technologies and serve as an appropriate location for that long-term permanent settlement,” Meyerson said.
“We also believe the moon is in sequence for longer term exploration of the solar system, including Mars,” he said. “These are the first steps we’re working on to enable our vision of millions of people living and working in space.”
Jeff Foust contributed to this story.