Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Designing Large Lunar Lander

Pablo Tucker
October 6, 2018

As part of the agreement, the unmanned spacecraft will be fitted with a NASA laser reflector created to help locate the exact position of the spaceship after landing.

The lander's first configuration will be capable of seating four astronauts as well as carrying up to 2,000lbs of cargo.

The companies say they're partnering on a future Blue Moon mission to the lunar surface and will collaborate on a payload for Blue Origin's reusable, orbital-class New Glenn rocket - but it sounds as if the details still have to be worked out.

The lunar modules used by NASA during the Apollo missions carried two people and weighed 4.7 tons without fuel.

The lander would work alongside NASA's planned Deep Space Gateway space station, allowing astronauts to visit the moon quickly and for long periods.

When astronauts finally walk on the moon again, they could be in for a long stay - as Lockheed Martin has shown off a giant lunar landerbuilt for two-week stints.

NASA has recently submitted to Congress a plan called the National Space Exploration Campaign, which immediately follows President Donald Trump Space Policy Directive-1 signed in December 2017.

NASA wanted innovative ideas for a return trip to the Moon and this is Lockheed's best attempt so far. In addition, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will attempt to take scientific measurements of the SpaceIL lander as it lands on the Moon. According to a lunar mineralogical map released by NASA past year, water is present nearly everywhere on the moon's surface, albeit in minute amounts.

An artist's conception shows Blue Origin's Blue Moon lander on the lunar surface.

Lockheed's lunar lander will serve as a precursor to an even more ambitious spacecraft: a Mars lander.

According to the new agreement, which was announced on Wednesday, NASA will contribute a laser retroreflector array to aid with ground tracking and support in mission communication. "The SLS will be the largest and most powerful rocket ever built - all this energy, all this force, will lift American astronauts to space aboard the Orion capsule", Pence explained.

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