WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos will unveil plans for missions to the moon on Thursday, tailored to the renewed push by the US government to set up a lunar outpost in just five years, people familiar with the matter said.
FILE PHOTO: Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket propeller and the Crew Capsule model at the 33rd space symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States, April 5 from 2017. REUTERS / Isaiah J. Downing
Bezos, the richest man in the world and executive director of Amazon.com, plans to organize an exceptional multimedia event at 4 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) in Washington to provide "an update on our progress and share our vision of going to space to benefit the Earth."
Blue Origin spokesperson Caitlin Dietrich did not respond to requests for comment.
Blue Origin, based in Kent, Washington, has been very strict with its lunar strategy. But people familiar with the company's plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Bezos is expected to provide details about lunar missions and a lunar landing spacecraft that the company is developing. Blue has also discussed a human post on the moon.
The vice president of the USA UU., Mike Pence, asked NASA in March to build a space platform in lunar orbit and place the American astronauts in the south pole of the moon by the year 2024 "by all means necessary", four years earlier than that had been planned previously. Bezos is likely to frame his strategy to align with that timeline in an attempt to attract funds from the US space agency, one of the people said.
An industry source said the company has been working to refine and accelerate its strategy after Pence's comments.
The company dropped a possible clue to the ad with a Twitter posting last month of a photo of the ship used by explorer Ernest Shackleton on an expedition to Antarctica, a possible reference to an impact crater in the lunar south pole who shares the name of man.
Bezos, who has spoken of his broader vision of allowing a future in which millions of people live and work in space, has proposed to approach commercialization.
But his vision is shared by other private space companies backed by billionaires like Elon Musk's SpaceX and aerospace incumbents like the United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin.
Blue Origin is developing its New Shepard rocket for short space tourism trips and a heavy launch rocket called New Glenn for satellite launch contracts. The company plans to deliver its New Glenn rocket by 2021, while launching humans on a suborbital flight later this year on its new New Shepard rocket and capsule.
Report by Joey Roulette in Washington and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Edited by Will Dunham