Jeff Bezos at the September 15, 2015 media event announcing Blue Origin will come to Cape Canaveral. Image source: Space News.
The Washington Post, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos, published today an “exclusive look” at plans for Bezos-owned Blue Origin to develop technology for robotic deliveries to the Moon.
Bezos, ranked by Forbes magazine last October as the second richest person in the United States, is best known for founding Amazon.com, an electronic commerce and cloud computing company.
Bezos in recent years has pursued a new service called Amazon Prime Air, which would deliver packages using aerial drones.
Now it appears Bezos wants to extend that concept to the Moon.
According to the article:
More than four decades after the last man walked on the lunar surface, several upstart space entrepreneurs are looking to capitalize on NASA's renewed interest in returning to the moon, offering a variety of proposals with the ultimate goal of establishing a lasting human presence there.
The commercial sector's interest comes as many anticipate support from the Trump administration, which is eager for a first-term triumph to rally the nation the way the Apollo flights did in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The article reports that Bezos submitted a seven-page white paper to NASA and the Trump transition team “about the company's interest in developing a lunar spacecraft with a lander that would touch down near a crater at the south pole where there is water and nearly continuous sunlight for solar energy.”
Bezos wants NASA to invest in the enterprise, perhaps with a milestone model similar to the commercial cargo and crew programs. The article states the white paper calls for NASA to provide “incentives to the private sector to demonstrate a commercial lunar cargo delivery service.”
There's no point in delivering a package if no one is there to receive it (much less sign for it), so “Blue Moon” as it's called would need for another entity, public or private, to establish a lunar base first.
Bigelow Aerospace is suggested as a possible technology for deploying a base infrastructure. Its Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is currently being tested at the International Space Station.
Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance and SpaceX all are developing technologies for human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit. NASA's Space Launch System with its Orion capsule is also in development for such missions, but is considered by most observers to be far more expensive and inefficient than projected commercial alternatives.
UPDATE March 3, 2017 — Jeff Bezos discussed Blue Moon and other Blue Origin projects last night at the Aviation Week awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Click the arrow to watch the interview clip. Video source: AviationWeek YouTube channel.