The first ignition of Blue Origin’s brand new rocket engine at the NASA space center in Huntsville, Alabama, lasted just 35 seconds. But: “The data is correct and the hardware is in pristine condition,” tweeted Jeff Bezos, richest man in the world and founder of the private US space company with 2,000 employees. The 55-year-old with the bald head finances Blue Origin with one billion dollars a year from the sale of his Amazon shares – and has every reason to be proud: Just two months ago he presented the model of a lunar module to a hand-picked group of invited guests.
Landing, loading, refueling on the moon
It is to be carried by the new engine to the earth’s satellite – loaded with up to four vehicles, devices for scientific research – and one day people too.
“It is very large, will land smoothly and precisely, and will carry up to 3.6 tons to the moon,” said Jeff Bezos. It is not important to him that future astronauts pose next to the US flag. He wants to research resources such as water that are necessary to open a manned ground station and filling stations for spaceships on the moon.
“Our new engine already uses liquid hydrogen. It was different with Apollo. But we use it because our goal is to get hydrogen from the water on the moon. Then spaceships on the moon can be refueled and used again.”
The billionaire sees the chance to set up a delivery service on the moon. Because he believes that the time of mankind on earth is limited by a coming energy crisis – and that it can only be saved by building human colonies in the solar system.
“Billions of people can live in the solar system,” says Bezos. “Then we would have thousands of Mozarts and thousands of Einsteins. That would be an incredible civilization,” says Bezos.
But how is this civilization supposed to arise in the solar system if the launch costs for rockets are still far too high?
Reusable shuttle for the future in space
For Bezos the answer is: Blue Glenn. This is a Blue Origin rocket that is still under development and is said to be partially reusable – and which could repeatedly carry the lunar module into space at lower costs. Mitchell Walker, professor of space technology at the Georgia Tech Institute of Technology in Atlanta, warns that Blue Origin will face completely new challenges.
“The biggest challenge is to find out as soon as possible whether it is safe to use the missile again. Sure, it worked when it landed. But did it work 70, 80 or 100 percent? You have to look at the essential performance parameters to see if she can start again and redo the mission. This is a technological challenge. “
A smaller Blue Origin rocket has already successfully completed several test flights – and is expected to bring people into space and back this year. But the difficulties involved in navigating a lunar module should not be underestimated either. That was shown in April when an Israeli space probe crashed on its planned landing on the floor of the moon. University of Connecticut space expert Claudio Bruno:
“The lunar module is a difficult piece of equipment. Moon landings are exercises in rocket steering. You don’t understand the terrain until you are close and there are still ambiguities once you have landed. It’s like an airplane on its way from Hamburg to New York is steered from the moon. “
Bruno is not exactly enthusiastic about the concept of opening human colonies in the solar system.
“You would need huge amounts of energy for these colonies and you would have to transport nuclear power generators from Earth into space.”
However, the space expert does not believe that Bezos will give up if there are any setbacks.
“He won’t stop. And he won’t compromise until he reaches his goal. He told me he has thirty years left to make his dream come true – and he will.”
While 8,000 Amazon employees recently warned their boss in a letter about wasting energy in the company, Bezos prefers to concentrate on new business in space – even if it does not lead directly to the moon. The Blue Glenn rocket will soon launch hundreds of satellites into space. OneWeb, which wants to provide the whole world with high-speed Internet from space, is also among the customers.
More than 3,000 satellites from Amazon are to follow to provide people in deserts and other remote locations with internet connections so that they can place their orders. It is not yet clear whether Amazon’s satellites will be launched into space by Blue Origin. What is clear is that Jeff Bezos dominates the delivery service on earth. And maybe soon in space too.
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