On July 20th, 1969 a human being landed on the Moon for the first time. For the next three years, other six Apollo missions took 12 astronauts to lunar soil. Since Apollo 17 took off from the Moon on December 14th, 1972, however, no one else set foot on the satellite. As of today, 46 years have passed by without human presence on the Moon.
That is about to change.
In March 2019, American president Donald Trump formalized the pledge to take man back to the Moon by 2024. According to him, this time, human presence on the satellite is intended to establish an advanced post – which may serve as a stopover for exploring other planets, such as Mars – and not just a simple scientific visit.
In early May, the plan gained materiality with such announcement, with the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos – owner of Amazon and whose personal wealth is estimated in US$ 131 billion – that his space exploration company, Blue Origin, had developed a spacecraft to land on the Moon.
Will Blue Moon take us back to the Moon?
Bezos’ spacecraft, Blue Moon, will have two versions: one for cargo and another one for cargo and astronauts. Both will be available by 2024. According to the MIT Technology Review, a publication from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the cargo version will hold up to 6.5 tons of equipment. The astronaut version, albeit not detailed, will carry at least two passengers.
Both versions will count on machine learning systems to improve, at each flight, landing accuracy on lunar soil. They will also rely on a robust system of energy generation based on fuel cells, which allow longer and more complex missions. The spacecraft design is modular, providing versatility to the solution.
According to Bezos, the spacecraft will be launched by the New Glenn rocket, still under development by Blue Origin, the same company in charge of developing the Blue Moon spacecraft. For this project, Bezos counts on the support of education institutions such as MIT, Johns Hopkins University and Arizona State University. Now, the dispute is for a contract, governmental most likely, to launch Blue Moon. But, when you’re the world’s richest man, nothing can really prevent you from funding the endeavor on your own.
What about you? Would you board the spacecraft and fly to the Moon?
Content published in June 7, 2019