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Amazon's Bezos eyes moon landings

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Billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, founder of rocket company Blue Origin, unveiled on a mock-up of a lunar lander spacecraft and discussed missions to the moon in a strategy tailored to the US government’s renewed push to establish a lunar outpost in just five years.

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Bezos, the world’s richest man and also chief executive and founder of Amazon, told a rare media event in Washington that the lander, named Blue Moon, could deliver payloads to the moon’s surface and deploy payloads during journeys to the moon.

During his hour-long presentation at Washington’s convention centre, Bezos waved his arm and a black drape behind him dropped to reveal the two-story-tall unmanned lander mock-up, which he said can deploy up to four smaller rovers and shoot out satellites to orbit the moon.

“This is an incredible vehicle and it’s going to the moon,” he added.

Bezos unveiled a model of one of the proposed rovers, which was roughly the size of a golf cart.

Bezos also presented a new rocket engine called BE-7, which can blast 4535kg of thrust.

Privately-held Blue Origin is developing its New Shepard rocket for short space tourism trips and a heavy-lift launch rocket called New Glenn for satellite launch contracts.

It is aiming to deliver the New Glenn rocket by 2021, while launching humans in a suborbital flight later this year atop its rocket-and-capsule New Shepard.

Blue Origin has also previously discussed a human outpost on the moon.

NASA has already set its sights on the moon’s south pole, a region believed to hold enough recoverable ice water for use in synthesising additional rocket fuel as well as for drinking water.

Bezos, who has talked about his broader vision of enabling a future in which millions of people live and work in space, has been intent on moving Blue Origin closer to commercialisation.

Bezos spoke of the importance of future human colonisation of space and mentioned two important issues: reducing launch costs and using resources already in space.

“One of the most important things we know about the moon today is that there’s water there,” Bezos said. “It’s in the form of ice. It’s in the permanently shadowed craters on the poles of the moon.”

His vision is shared by other billionaire-backed private space ventures like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and aerospace incumbents like United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

-AAP

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