Amazon provides a great service to many and at the same time is heavily criticized by many others. The same can be said of (part of) humanity’s dream of colonizing the Solar System. The greatest of all undertakings but also apparently useless when there are so many problems to solve right here inside our Planet’s atmosphere. Still, this author believes that humanity has the ability to both solve its problems and reach beyond them at the same time. While Bezos’s plans for space colonization are still somewhat vague, he (like Musk and many other visionary entrepreneurs targeting space) should certainly be praised for it. Even more so since Bezos’ Blue Origin is a heavy user of additive manufacturing, as demonstrated by the latest “almost entirely 3D printed” BE-7 engine, soon to be live-tested for the upcoming Blue Moon lunar lander that the company is working on.
Bezos presented the Blue Moon lander along with his vision for going to space and how this will eventually benefit Earth. As the founder of a company that built most of its fortunes in delivering products effectively, delivering a package to the Moon is definitely in line with Amazon’s consumer businesses. The Blue Moon lunar lander is going to be capable of taking people and payloads to the lunar surface, meeting the current Administration’s goal of putting Americans on the Moon by 2024.
In fact, it can deliver multiple metric tons of payload to the lunar surface based on configuration and mission. The cargo variant revealed during the presentation can carry 3.6 metric tons to the surface. A variant of the lander can stretch to be capable of carrying a 6.5-metric-ton, human-rated ascent stage.
The Blue Moon lunar lander will be powered by the almost entirely 3D printed BE-7 engine, a new addition to Blue Origin’s family of engines, which have all been making very heavy use of additive manufacturing technologies. The BE-7’s 40 kN (10,000 lbf) thrust is designed for large lunar payload transport. The engine’s propellants are a highly-efficient combination of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The BE-7 will have its first hotfire this summer. The engine will be available for sale to other companies for use in in-space and lander applications.
Finally, Bezos presented Club for the Future, a non-profit founded by Blue Origin dedicated to inspiring and engaging the next generation of dreamers and space entrepreneurs as we journey to preserve Earth and unlock the potential of living and working in space. The Club will bring together K-12 students, educators and leaders for campaigns and initiatives utilizing Blue Origin’s unique access to space. The Club’s first activity will be to send a postcard to space and back on a future New Shepard mission—the first ever space mail. Bezos’ appreciation for the science-fiction book and TV series The Expanse is no secret, so much so that Amazon picked up the TV series’ rights when it was going to be canceled by Sci-Fi Channel. The series depicts possibly the most realistic picture for a future in which humanity has colonized the entire Solar System. Like Amazon itself, it is not always a pretty picture, but it’s one that is most definitely in our stars.