back to article Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin unveils 'Blue Moon' lander, making it way too easy for manchild Elon Musk to take the piss

At an event in Washington DC, Blue Origin boss Jeff Bezos yesterday showed world+dog the company's Moon lander – Blue Moon – and promised manned missions to the lunar surface by 2024. The actual unveiling starts from 33:57 on this vid below if you fancy skipping Bezos' self-congratulatory spiel and get straight to the action, …

  1. TRT Silver badge

    "...the cargo variant, which can handle a payload of 3.6 metric tonnes, and a stretched tanker version that can manage 6.5 metric tonnes."

    I wonder if I can get free delivery with Amazon Prime membership?

  2. Alistair Silver badge
    Windows

    need to make a musical correction here:

    "The lander is equipped with davits to lower payloads from its top deck onto the surface and laser-beam communicationsguitar".

    (its friday)

    1. Haku

      Re: need to make a musical correction here:

      Have you been watching Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem?

      If not, you should :)

  3. Scott Pedigo
    Coat

    Considering What The Rocket Reminds Me Of...

    it should carry TWO moon landers.

    1. weegie38

      Re: Considering What The Rocket Reminds Me Of...

      A rocket lifting two of these would look like a giant...

      </Austin Powers credit gag>

  4. Haku

    Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

    Has he not seen the 1970's documentary series Space: 1999?

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

      But that other 1970s documentary series UFO, amply demonstrated that a moon base was required as a vital part of the defence network. So it's a case of dammed if you and damned if you don't.

      1. Haku

        Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

        Excellent point, documentaries such as these could go a long way to explaining why Trump ordered the setup of a Space Force, are we in fact on the verge of an intergalactic war we don't know about?

        Hmm, I've just noticed my silver badge has disappeared. Must be those aliens.

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

        The original premise for Space:1999 was UFO series 2, where SHADO would take the fight to the alien homeworld - using the moon as a giant, interstellar battle platform.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

          Shado had much sharper uniforms

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

            I mean shorter, of course

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

      Given the large number of scientific inaccuracies, 1999 is really very far from being a 'documentary'.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

        You're bringing facts into this discussion. Spoilsport.

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

          To be fair there was no spoil sport mentality in that post. As much as I loved those series and other Gerry Anderson productions... moving the moon in any fashion is near impossible. So much so it has to be watched as a pure fantasy.

          I find it hard to take serious any series/book/game that "explodes" or destroys the moon. Orbital mechanics and gravity don't work like that. Thats why it's amazing when sci-fi follows the limits and still weaves a story from it.

          At least with Interstellar or Gravity sizes and timescales were changed partially for speed of storytelling. Something much easier to help someone understand than trying to correct completely fabricated "space" science.

          1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

            Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

            You might like Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, which has a moon destruction motif that is farm more reasonable. Of course, while his moon makes sense, the inhabitants of his earth don't ("Hey, the world will end in 1 year" "Wow! Really?" "Yup". "Cor. That sucks. Oh, well, must go, can't be late for work...")

            Still, in an effort to be directly relevant to the article... Stephenson worked at Blue Origin.

            1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

              Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

              Yeah, sometimes character errors can be worse than scientific ones. XD

              (Characters need to be consistent, and possibly have some form of reality in their emotional responses :P )

            2. Ken 16 Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

              I found his minimum survival populations unrealistic (without additional time and technology not mentioned in the book) as well as lack of non-american on-planet survivor groups. I also kept mis-reading the title as seveneyes but that one's all on me. That said, if they make a film, Gwendoline Christie would make a great Tekla.

            3. Brangdon Bronze badge

              Re: Seveneves

              To be fair, Seveneves is mostly set in space, where folk are more likely to survive. On Earth it mostly focuses on the people who remain responsible, go to work and get stuff done. It just doesn't talk about the ones who give up. And it's two years between getting notice of everyone dieing and it actually happening. I suspect a lot people would go back to work for most of that time. They'd still need to eat, so they'd need to get paid somehow. Not everyone has two-years worth of savings to live on. It's in the last 3 months before the event that society starts to break down, which gets mentioned briefly.

          2. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

            ...moving the moon in any fashion is near impossible...

            Just to point out that the moon is very much in motion.

        2. TechnicalBen Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

          PS. But they are inaccurate. We all know Fireball XL5, the mysterons and the Terrahawks were involved with the aliens!!!

          Icon as Brains would correct my errors.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Happy

            Re: Going back to the moon? Very bad idea.

            Technical Ben,

            You bastard! Now all I can hear in my head is:

            I wish I was a spaceman,

            The fastest guy alive.

            I'd fly you round the universe,

            In Fireball XL5.

            The worst thing to admit is that I didn't have to look that up to remember the lyrics.

  5. Jellied Eel Silver badge

    Doing it by the Book

    Does the New Shepard have the old Shepard's corpse attached to the fairing, Reaver style?

    I'm still curious as to how hard it'd be to set up an automated Lunar brick making facility. To have cost-effective heavy engineering in space, it would seem neccessary to start making heavy components there pronto to save hauling them out of our gravity well.

    1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Doing it by the Book

      You can't make bricks without straw!

      1. HildyJ Silver badge

        Re: Doing it by the Book

        But why make bricks? Since there's no air on the moon we could just use the straw and the Big Bad Wolf could huff and puff all he wanted but he wouldn't be able to blow the house down. Although I suppose the Cow might notice it when she's jumping over the moon and land to eat it.

  6. DougS Silver badge

    Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

    He has to go childish, instead of standing up like a man and congratulating Bezos for his progress. I wonder if he's a distant relation of Trump's, they seem to have a similar temperament...

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

      Blue origin hasn't so far managed to get to orbit. They rely on claiming "spaceflight" to mean going upto 100km and falling back down . Hoping that rich passengers don't know the difference and idiot investors don't see how much harder it is

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

        Ummm.... that's just dumb. New Shepherd, just like Virgin Galactic, is a suborbital system, and no-one pretends otherwise.

        So let's look at some facts, shall we?

        SpaceX had Block 3 and 4 Falcon 9's that can be reused once (so flown twice). Block 5 is supposed to be reusable up to 10 times before major refurbishment, but to date just two have been flown 3 times (the first "3rd flight" was in December last year).

        New Shepard's flight history looks a bit different. NS2 was a test article, used to develop the system It flew to the 100km altitude 5 times in 11 months, after which they retired it.

        NS3 is flying now. It's fourth flight carried payload from people that YAAC would presumably lump with "idiot investors", even if they're the idiots that the original Shepard worked for when he flew Freedom 7 in 1961 and commanded Apollo 14 in 1971...

        This month NS3 flew it's fifth flight.

        NS4 is in Texas now, and is schedule to fly humans this year.

        So what we have here is two tracks towards the same goal (and yes, the ultimate goal of both Musk and Bezos are the same: humans on Mars). Blue Horizon is doing lots of boring testing but making no money, while SpaceX is parallel tracking the testing with commercial operations. SpaceX is undoubtedly more glamorous, but against which Musk is (to be polite) a potential loose cannon. Blue Horizon is working with ULA and NASA, SpaceX is competing with ULA and selling services to anyone (including NASA).

        But right now, would you rather fly on a Crew Dragon or a New Shepard? Statistically, both have 100% rates on mission completion after delivery to the launch pad, except that NS is 100% success and CD is 100% failure...

        I think it quite likely that Blue Horizon will get someone to 100km this year. I think it quite unlikely that Crew Dragon will get someone anywhere (this year).

        1. Ken 16 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

          If the rivalry motivates either or both of them, bring it on. I think they are both flawed, possibly unpleasant, businessmen doing a great thing for mankind as a boost for their egos. The railways benefited from the same robber baron mentality in the 19th Century as did cars and aircraft in the early 20th.

        2. rg287 Silver badge

          Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

          Let's look at some facts.

          New Shephard is irrelevant to Blue Moon. Nobody cares.

          New Glenn started development in 2012, hasn't flown, and won't fly until 2021 at the earliest. That's a 9-year development project (which to be fair, is better than SLS is managing).

          The 2021 launch date means that if BO intend to go to the moon by 2024, they have to fly New Glenn on (or near) schedule, work out all the kinks, get it man-rated, develop an ascent/transit vehicle, get that man-rated, and then put meatbags in their transit vehicle and lunar lander and fire them moonwards.

          In 3 years.

          Yeah, okay. I can see that happening... not.

          By contrast, SpaceX has a man-rated vehicle right now, and just needs to fine-tune the capsule, which evidently isn't that critical a design issue since Cargo Dragon is still cleared to fly to the ISS. The failure was serious, but obviously not an inherent or underlying design flaw which will require them to rework Crew Dragon ground-up.

          Don't get me wrong, New Glenn is a fine-looking rocket (on paper) and I want to see it fly. The comment of "blue balls" and "Stop teasing Jeff" is entirely reasonable. Musk wants some more competition to make NASA finally kill SLS and to beat Boeing/ULA with.

          Christ, imagine what SpaceX (or BO for that matter) could do with even half the taxpayer cash that has been pissed up the wall by SLS.

          Besides, BO give as good back. When F9 first landed successfully, BO tweeted "Welcome to the Club" on the basis they were first to soft-land a rocket with New Shephard. Conveniently ignoring the fact that F9 is an order of magnitude larger, more powerful and had actually been to space and back delivering a useful payload - not just a simple up-and-down tech demo. It's intriguing that people should pick on Musk for having a dig at Bezos when BO have dug at SpaceX just as often.

          1. Alister Silver badge

            Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

            BO... Such an unfortunate initialism...

        3. Brangdon Bronze badge

          Re: CD is 100% failure

          Actually, Crew Dragon is 100% success. It successfully completed an uncrewed mission to ISS and returned with cargo safely. I'm guessing the failure you are thinking of is the one that happened later, during a test mounted on a test-rig, not during a mission. Finding such failures is why they test. They were being cautious, so it makes no sense for you to criticise them for it.

          It's unfair to call SpaceX loose cannons. We have no idea whether Blue Origin will be safer if/when they finally make orbit, because they've not done that yet, and what they have done is enormously easier. Their approach is not proven.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

      Nah, not the Trump thing. He mentions dabs in his posts and no one is sure what Trump is on.

    3. Killing Time

      Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

      I think the Space X achievements give him the kudos to take the piss out of potential competitors, it's just a shame his wit appears to have deserted him.

      Bezos' ambitions are admirable but as yet the talk and vision are just not backed up by true innovation, a demonstrable track record or an aggressive launch and development program which might just achieve his stated aims.

      1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

        Err... 10 successful flights using 2 vehicles isn't a demonstrable track record?

        Musk knows PR. Bezos is presumably waiting for the user reviews...

    4. Brangdon Bronze badge

      Re: Musk just hates it when someone else gets attention

      Musk did make a tweet welcoming the competition, which The Register didn't report presumably because it spoils the story. It's hard to congratulate for progress because there wasn't any real progress in this announcement. It was just stuff they plan to do. The lander is a mock-up, the new engine has never been test-fired, the rocket they intend to launch with hasn't been built and uses another new engine that isn't flight-ready.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm torn...

    Bezos is stealing our tax revenue so all those white Amazon vans are beating potholes into our roads for free... but he's using it to land on the friggin' moon!

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    Blue moon...

    You saw me standing alone

    Without a dream in my heart

    Without a love of my own

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Blue moon...

      Stay off the moor ...

  9. thexfile

    Dead people is space!

  10. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Alien

    What in blue blazes is that thing?

    Is that just the motor part or the whole thing? A rather flimsy looking frame, a big ball and a bit of motor at the bottom. Is the ball the cargo area or fuel?

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: What in blue blazes is that thing?

      Spot the person who didn't bother to watch the video!

      The ball is the liquid hydrogen tank (there are O2 tanks in that same area).

      The cargo area is the flat top. You don't have to put things "inside" when landing on the moon, because there's no atmosphere to worry about.

      And "flimsy"??? Have you ever seen a Lunar Excursion Module? You know, the Apollo landers made by Grumman? They used actual _foil_ as walls!

      OK: so the world's richest man says he'll put a human in space this year (albeit suborbital, like Alan Shepard's Mercury capsule... hence the name). He says he'll fly New Glenn in 2021. He says he'll land Blue Moon in 2024.

      I'm not sure I'd bet against him.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        "Two Day" shipping and other lies

        Bezos says "he'll put a human in space this year (albeit suborbital, like Alan Shepard's Mercury capsule... hence the name). ...fly New Glenn in 2021. ...land Blue Moon in 2024."

        He also promises "Two Day" shipping, and then takes an extra several days to think about even STARTING the "two day" shipping process, thus making it into four or five days.

  11. TechnicalBen Silver badge
    Boffin

    Perfect for sci-fi...

    These two companies would make a fantastic sci-fi story of a battle to the moon and mars landings. No need for actual galactic wars or anything... just some creative battles against obstacles, nature and competition.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Obvious Slow News Day

    John Oates - Complains about people acting like 11 years olds.

    Same dude - Watch me write like an 11 year old.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe this is a part of Jeff's new service, "Moon Lander Prime?"

  14. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It makes a change from leaving your stuff in the neighbour's bin.

  15. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

    Asimov obviously didn't read Clarke...

    In the video, Bezos shows a clip from Asimov in 1975 asking whether any SF authors had considered artificial worlds (like O'Neil colonies). Asimov claims no one had.

    Except that, in 1973, Arthur C Clarke published "Rendezvous with Rama", which describes spaceships that are artificial habitats.

    So did Clarke predict O'Neil?

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Asimov obviously didn't read Clarke...

      The greeks predicted space flight and battles thousands of years ago:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_True_Story

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Asimov obviously didn't read Clarke...

      So did Clarke predict O'Neil?

      Not really predict. O'Neill effectively used two Ramas with contra-rotation for his cylinders, but O'Neill's other designs were based on spheres.

    3. Santa from Exeter

      Re: Asimov obviously didn't read Clarke...

      And Larry Niven wrote Ringworld in 1970, so precedent there.

  16. steelpillow Silver badge
    Trollface

    Why land on the moon?

    That down-and-up stuff is expensive, dangerous and pointless. Leave the low-gravity, abrasive dust-clogged bit to the industrial robots.

    I'd rather build a spinning space station with a healthy level of artificial gravity. No harm then in moseying over to lunar orbit for a look see.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      Re: Why land on the moon?

      Go for it!

      If you can build one, do and if you can undercut Bezos and Musk and make your fortune, well done you. No one is stopping you.

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Why land on the moon?

        Already can.

        Mine is the one with the VR kit in the pocket and a humanoid robot on the moon.

        That would undercut them. May not be as popular, but certainly cheaper than sending entire living quarters. Now where's the Kickstarter registration when you want to make a quick buck?

  17. MrDamage

    Obligatory childish post

    Why can't they get along? There is the opportunity for a photo-op there, maybe a Falcon Heavy Lifter, flanked by a Blue Origin on each side?

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: Obligatory childish post

      Why can't they get along? There is the opportunity for a photo-op there, maybe a Falcon Heavy Lifter, flanked by a Blue Origin on each side?

      Because they're in competition?

      And because BO give just as good back.

      Their jibe of "Welcome to the club" when F9 first soft-landed was met with similar derision because soft-landing a sub-orbital toy which went straight up and down is quite different to soft-landing a 13-storey building which has just been to space and back, delivering a useful payload to orbit in the process.

      At the end of the day, Musk wants BO to get on with it - he wants to put Congress and NASA in a position where they have no option but to kill SLS and spend that money on something useful. Musk has been launching payloads for years and New Glenn is still NET 2021 (by which time SpaceX's fourth vehicle StarShip will be well on it's way, but BO are still playing around with New Shephard - less capable than Falcon 1 along hopefully with a FH competitor in New Glenn).

  18. dbtx

    BE-7?

    The Abit BE7 we got in '02 was great. With it the 2.0A Northwood would run at 3.0 stable, 3.2 less so.

  19. IvyKing

    BE-7 an updated RL-10?

    The RL-10 has been around since the early 1960's, curious on what improvements the BE-7 has over the RL-10.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: BE-7 an updated RL-10?

      The RL-10 is an expander cycle engine. That is, it warms up some of the fuel by passing it through the nozzle (thus keeping the nozzle from melting), and uses the now expanded, gaseous(?), fuel to power the turbo-pump, which pumps the fuel and oxidiser into the engine.

      The BE-7 is a dual expander cycle engine. So it heats up the fuel to run the fuel pump, but also separately warms up the oxidiser (liquid oxygen) to run a separate pump for the main oxidiser supply, this ends up making the plumbing simpler, and more robust (because the fuel and oxidiser circuits can be kept separate).

      This difference might help make the BE-7 more efficient (although I'm assuming that a clean slate design using modern materials and construction techniques will also help), but it will also make the BE-7 more reusable (not something the RL-10's designers cared about).

      tl/dr because it's a new, modern, design, the BE-7 is likely to be simpler and more efficient than the venerable RL-10.

      If you prefer more visual information, Scott Manley does a much better job of explaining it in this video.

  20. Brangdon Bronze badge

    Ascent vehicle

    It's worth noting that although they showed a crewed ascent vehicle, they aren't bidding for that portion of the NASA contract themselves. They can deliver one to the Moon, but someone else will have to build it.

    So what they are actually offering is somewhat less than SpaceX have planned for Starship, except Starship will be 100% reusable from day 1, and can land 100 tonnes rather than 6.5 on the Moon. Both in the same timescale - arguably Starship is more advanced because it has a working engine and has done tethered flight-tests of a crude prototype of its second stage. Blue Origin don't have a flight-ready engine for their main rocket, and the engine for their lander has never been test-fired. The way things are looking, both New Glenn and Starship will likely make first orbit in 2021. New Glenn won't be reusing their second stage, and their lander is only reusable with ISRU which won't be available on the Moon for quite a while.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020