Blue Origin, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has unveiled a full-scale mock-up of the Blue Moon Mark 1 lander intended to land on the moon.
A recent meeting attended by Bezos and NASA chief Bill Nelson took place at Blue Origin’s engine manufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama.
Images from the event were shared on social media by Blue Origin and Nelson.
“We launched the nearly 3-story Blue Moon MK1 cargo lander demonstrator,” Blue Origin Words in his post, adding that in addition to transporting cargo to the lunar surface, the Mark 1’s initial uncrewed mission will also serve to confirm the vehicle’s technological capabilities.
“MK1 will be capable of delivering three metric tons to any location on the lunar surface,” Blue Origin said. “This capacity makes it ideal for a wide range of logistics, infrastructure and science loads.”
The next flight will use Blue Origin’s Mark 2 lander to send astronauts to the moon. A date for the first Mark 1 mission has not yet been announced, while the first Mark 2 flight carrying astronauts to the lunar surface is currently set for 2029 as part of the Artemis V mission.
The lander will travel to the moon inside a 23-foot-wide (7-meter) fairing atop Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, which is currently under development. The astronauts will transfer to the lander from the Lunar Gateway facility orbiting the moon, which is also under development.
Commenting on his first look at the Blue Origin lander – or at least a clone of it – NASA boss Bill Nelson described it as “impressive” and said Blue Origin’s landing system would “help ensure a steady cadence of astronauts on the moon for life.” and work before we venture to Mars.”
Before Blue Origin’s first astronaut mission, SpaceX will use a modified version of the Starship spacecraft to send the first humans to the moon since the last Apollo flight in 1972. That mission, Artemis III, is currently set for 2025.
As part of the Artemis program, NASA also plans to build a permanent base on the moon for long-term residence for astronauts, while the moon could also one day be used to launch manned missions to Mars and beyond.