back to article Billionaire Bezos unveils plans to land humans on Moon, with a little help from some old friends

Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world, yesterday pitched NASA a team mostly made up of the usual suspects to build a lunar lander for the agency's ambitious 2024 boots-on-Moon goal. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, Bezos announced the "national team", of which his Blue Origin would be …

  1. iron Silver badge

    Blue Origin should really concentrate on actually finishing a project. How many years are they behind on New Glenn and New Shepard? Perhaps try to actually get into orbit before you pitch going to the moon Jeff.

    Yes I'm aware their partners have lunar history but that was two generations of engineers ago so they're effectively noobs too.

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Kennedys " We go to the moon " was when NASA had only 2 flights and a total of 6 orbits.

      At least this time all the problems & solutions are known, these announcements are just keeping up with the crowd.

      I agree with the noobs comment, but they do have a very big crib sheet this time :)

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "At least this time all the problems & solutions are known"

        "At least this time all the problems & solutions were known".... in fifty years a lot of knowledge can get lost...

      2. JCitizen
        Stop

        Their biggest problem..

        Is always the vehicle and systems - the science of going to the moon was always clear, especially the mathematics. The biggest accident was the largest learning event - don't use pure oxygen.

        Even Space X is having problems with the emergency ejection system of the main capsule - in a LOT of ways, they are all starting from scratch. Too bad the Russians never had a big enough tested rocket to go to the moon, or we'd be better off using at least half of the available equipment as being tested and true Russian rockets. No doubt the Soyuz spacecraft is golden as a command vehicle.

  2. Mattmattic

    Not entirely sure this is a good idea.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
  3. Muscleguy Silver badge

    The Future’s Bright

    The future is all about the uber rich running the world. We all just get to bask their glory and try not to be blinded by it.

    I suppose the silver lining is they are doing it under contract with NASA, not going the entirely lone way of Musk or Branson.

    Be nice if they took a leaf out of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet’s efforts to make life better down here. It all smacks more than a little of boys and their toys.

    1. tony72

      Re: The Future’s Bright

      I suppose the silver lining is they are doing it under contract with NASA, not going the entirely lone way of Musk or Branson.

      In what sense do you mean "lone way"? SpaceX takes cargo to the ISS, and will be taking astronauts to the ISS under contract to NASA, just two of the most high profile of many NASA contracts. Yes, they're planning a privately funded Mars mission, but they're also planning missions working with NASA and others. Hardly seems like a "lone way".

      And Bezos is a competitor to Branson in the sub-orbital space tourism business, and he isn't working with NASA on that either, it wouldn't make any sense to do so.

      1. JCitizen
        Go

        Re: The Future’s Bright

        Competition is good - NASA pays the way, but the entrepreneurs foot a good part of the development costs. It is going to be a lot cheaper to get to the moon the next time - in a comparative sense; especially for the tax payer. Modern dollars and inflation figured into the equation.

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: The Future’s Bright

      Uber rich rule the world because we voted for them by clicking on Google Ads and by buying through Amazon. There are competitors. You are welcome to use them.

      Branson's joyride to almost space is of very little interest to NASA but if it makes some rich tourists happy and helps to fund Branson's air-launched orbital rocket then I see no big downside.

      Commercial Resupply is a very successful partnership that has benefited NASA and SpaceX. Commercial Crew should show similar benefits next year. NASA has shown strong interest in Starship/Superheavy. Senator Shelby will not fund it because it competes with his pork projects so Musk has to do that one on his own.

      Bezos' plan was optimised for pork, not cost effective Luna exploration. If this plan falls through, Bezo's will aim for reducing the cost of access to space with or without NASA. As Trump likes the sound of a 2024 Moon landing and Shelby will fund anything built in Alabama Bezos will not turn up his nose when there is a good chance taxpayers will fund part of his pet project for him.

      I am glad Bill is spending some of his money on making the world a better place but please remember other people might have done more if Bill had not taken so much of their money.

      1. fishman

        Re: The Future’s Bright

        "I am glad Bill is spending some of his money on making the world a better place but please remember other people might have done more if Bill had not taken so much of their money."

        Bill also engaged in questionable business practices that drove other companies under.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        It's one small click for a man (or woman), one giant profit for Amazon.

      3. JCitizen
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: The Future’s Bright

        When you look at how all the technology that went into the original moon shot; it is hard to say we didn't benefit greatly as a society, from all the technology that trickled down to the consumer side of the economy.

    3. cray74

      Re: The Future’s Bright

      I suppose the silver lining is they are doing it under contract with NASA, not going the entirely lone way of Musk or Branson.

      Musk has been raking in a fortune from NASA. When SpaceX was staggering after the near-failure of the Falcon 1 and was trying to develop the Falcon 9, NASA offered SpaceX the COTS contract for cargo delivery to the ISS. NASA flew the DragonEye docking system on the shuttle to test it out for SpaceX (missions STS-127, STS-129, and STS-133). The Crew Dragon / Dragon 2 is also dependent on NASA funding.

      SpaceX is just following a long line of private companies in lining up for NASA's contracts. NASA doesn't have a rocket factory, so whether it was flying a Mercury-Redstone (Mercury capsule: McDonnell Aircraft Company, Redstone rocket: Chrysler Aerospace) or landing an Apollo LM (Grumman) on the moon, NASA has depended on private contractors.

  4. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Elysium.

  5. SteveCoops

    CuriousMarc's YouTube channel is a must to watch the series on restoring the Apollo AGC. Mike is such a great geek that knows the Apollo systems inside out. Be warned, you will lose a couple of days to the series though!

  6. Someoneelsehasmyname

    So Blue Origin aren't New Space after all

    They're acting more and more like Old Space - sucking in vast sums of money, delivering very little, and now leaning on other Old Space companies to even deliver that.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: So Blue Origin aren't New Space after all

      Is anyone surprised by this? Oh well. Perhaps when Bezos and co. do finally make it (assuming they make it), the Musky one will invite them into one of his lunar Starship settlements for a cuppa.

  7. Stuart Halliday

    How many companies are going to the Moon now?

    I've lost count....

    1. John 104

      @Stuart

      Oh, that's easy. 1. Space X.

      While everyone else is futzing about and getting nothing done, Space X is eating their lunch and actually launching rockets and all the other amazing stuff they do.

      1. cray74

        While everyone else is futzing about and getting nothing done, Space X is eating their lunch and actually launching rockets and all the other amazing stuff they do.

        SpaceX does have fantastic public relations to go with their amazing hardware.

        While SpaceX has been futzing around with its Starship to the point one of its customer had to yell at it to pay attention to its Dragon 2 contract, other companies...

        1. Have won NASA's CATALYST contract for commercial cargo deliveries to the moon (Astrobotics, Intuitive Machines, and Orbit Beyond - not SpaceX)

        2. Are developing and testing commercial lunar landers without NASA funding (Moon Express & Rocket Lab, the latter of which flies the proven Electron rocket)

        3. Have been launching Atlas V rockets, testing the Orion capsule (in the atmosphere), and bringing in 4-5x SpaceX's revenue in the space industry

        4. Have been launching Delta IV rockets, maintaining the ISS, developing the SLS, testing the CST-100 Starliner, and bringing in 6-7x SpaceX's revenue in the space industry

        5. Have been launching Antares rockets and delivering cargo to the ISS with the Cygnus

        6. Have been developing a new spaceplane for reusable orbital cargo delivery, the Dream Chaser

        SpaceX is impressive, but it's a small company that represents a small part of the current aerospace market. Don't overlook the leviathans and upstarts around it, there's some fascinating stuff happening in aerospace right now and it's not all about SpaceX.

        1. John 104

          It's true, other companies have been doing things. But winning contracts isn't the same as actually putting a product to market. The dream chaser is pretty darn cool, but is still really in development as well. And the rockets you mentioned have been in rotation since as early as 2000. To me, this is still SpaceX eating lunch of everyone else. Developing, certifying and launching rockets is no small task. So far, they seem to be leading the pack.

          Regardless, it is an exciting time for space technology again. I was a kid in the 70s and 80s and marveled at the Apollo and shuttle programs (although the shuttle program was hugely wasteful). I'm glad to see public companies being allowed by the US and other governments to pursue these programs.

  8. Pete 2

    First time every time?

    > The BE-7, of course, has yet to actually leave the test stand. Bezos told the audience that to date, the company had managed 13 minutes of test time, including a three-minute continuous firing.

    There is a big difference between a test firing on Earth, in 1G of gravity and a nice, accommodating environment and hoping that the same engine will even light up after several days of near absolute zero, vacuum and after the stresses and strains of launch.

  9. JohnFen Silver badge

    I don't know why

    This is the sort of thing that I would expect to get very excited about. But I'm not, at all. I don't know why.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: I don't know why

      Possibly because now the usual suspects are involved, we'll see the same stellar rate of progress as that paragon of efficiency, the SLS...?

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: I don't know why

        Yeah, that's not it. NASA's involvement should make me even more excited than if it were a purely private venture.

    2. Colin 29

      Re: I don't know why

      Because it just looks like a slightly scaled up version of what was achieved in the 60s?

  10. johnnyblaze

    Call me

    Call me when BO actually get off the ground and put something into orbit. They're all talk and hot-air at the moment - absolutely nothing to get excited about. SpaceX are running rings around everyone.

  11. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Jeff Bezos is a dickhead

    I think that is a fair comment. Being on the rich list, let alone the richest person, is failure. You are meant to donate enough to worthy causes to get off the rich list, and onto the philanthropist list.

    Saying that, if Bezos and Musk were raising funds to travel together to Mars then I'd donate to that. The earth would be a little bit lighter and a little bit brighter.

  12. jake Silver badge

    " (although those engineers will have long been put out to pasture.)"

    I know three 80+ year old Apollo engineers who are still gainfully employed as engineers. Granted, the three own their own engineering firms ... but if they are still working, I'm sure there must still be at least a couple more out there doing the 9-5 thing.

  13. JoMe

    Eh...

    We already have. Do something interesting like Mars.

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