Amazon Deliveries to the Moon?

Not really…I don’t know though, maybe?

I wrote here a week or so ago a little bit about NASA’s accelerated moon plans, but I was a little bit hasty in releasing it. Soon after that another Lunar lander design came forward that might get added to the SpaceX Starship and the two designs put forward by Lockheed-Martin.

Jeff Bezos revealed his launch company’s new Lunar Lander. It will be called Blue Moon after the company’s name, Blue Origin.

Now I realize that the most frequent critique that people have about Jeff Bezos and space is that he talks a lot and spends a lot of his money but doesn’t seem to come forward with any commercially available products. This lander isn’t due to launch until 2024 with private funding, but Bezos’ remarks imply that he might try to get a funded Space Act Agreement contract under Next Step for lander technology to include with NASA’s Lunar Orbiting Gateway-Platform (LOP-G) to speed things along. He may need to, because a 2024 readiness date might turn out to be a bit slow.

What I mean is that there are three categories of lander in the works, NASA LOP-G contenders, former Lunar X-Prize contenders, and China…all of whom seem heavily motivated right now. The metaphore of the Tortoise and the Hare has been brought up by some in reference to Bezos, but he might be the only tortoise in the race.

peregrine_3

NASA has the expertise and the money, but the X-Prize competitors have a head start and one of them, SpaceIL, has already reached the Moon with a robotic lander. At least one other, Astrobotic, might try to launch between now and 2024. They already have a development contract with NASA to work on a rover and a launch contract with United Launch Alliance to try and get their Peregrine lander off the ground sometime in 2020. MoonExpress, TeamIndus, Hakuto, PT Scientists, or Synergy Moon might surprise us and show us something before 2024 as well. If any of them reach the Moon (gently) fairly soon, they would probably end up on NASA’s list of possibilities. XPrize landers are tiny things compared to what NASA wants, but if one of them should end up with anything actually sitting on the Lunar surface and still functioning it would make them impossible to completely ignore.

yutu_rover_on_the_moon

China is landing things on the Moon right now, but they won’t be taken seriously by NASA until they get their act together on controlling tech piracy. That might happen if the Trump Administration can twist their arm hard enough to shoe-horn an agreement out of them to do so. I hope that happens. They would make a great Moon partner. Still, they might wedge themselves somewhere in the LOP-G project anyway, since it is an International project and Russia and Europe are already warm to working with them.

Blue Moon

The snails-pace development of New Shepard and New Glen will not work for Blue Moon if Bezos wants to work a Lunar lander for NASA, since the space agency has stepped up its game and Space Act agreements require results on a timeline. Their accelerated Moon plans that the Trump Administration wants don’t seem to be working out very well, but whether their crewed landing date is in 2024 or sometime later, some kind of actual physical results will likely be expected well before 2024 for anyone working with them on a lander.

Bezos doesn’t seem to care about getting a foot in a door early in an industry though, so we’ll see.

By the way. Elon, your recent mean Tweet about Blue Moon, not cool. Just say’n.

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~ by Bill Housley on May 12, 2019.

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