Jeff Bezos announces Blue Origin is going to the moon

Blue Origin today unveiled its Blue Moon lunar lander and shared plans to go to the moon in the years ahead. The company is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who shared the news at a press conference held today before a select audience in Washington D.C.

As Blue Origin previously announced, its New Shepard rocket will make its first manned flight later this year.

Humans haven’t returned to the surface of the moon since the end of NASA’s Apollo mission in 1972, but NASA is expected to share details about its plan to return to the moon by 2024 in the weeks ahead.

“We can help meet that timeline but only because we started three years ago. It’s time to go back to the moon, this time to stay,” Bezos said today in response to a push by Vice President Mike Pence for NASA to return to the moon’s surface, according to Reuters.

Like SpaceX’s rockets and unlike conventional space rockets, Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket can both launch and land. Blue Origin began to fulfill Air Force launch services contract last fall and NASA payload contracts in 2016. The New Shepard rocket completed its 11th successful suborbital flight earlier this month. Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket is scheduled to begin flights in 2021.

Reusable rockets are often referred to as an important part of making space travel an affordable venture in the future.

Announcements today provide some of the most concrete news about the company’s vision for the future since it was created in 2000. The world’s richest man cashes in $1 billion of Amazon stock a year to fund Blue Origin, and previously told reporters he envisions millions of people living in space in the future.

A re-emergence of interest in the moon is currently underway. Blue Origin’s announcement follows news that an Israeli private space company failed its lunar landing attempt last month, and the Indian Space Agency plans to land a rover on the surface of the moon in July.

China’s National Space Administration landed a probe on the dark side of the moon in January, a first in human history.

More news could be announced next month at re:Mars, Amazon’s AI, space, and robotics conference scheduled to take place June 4-7 in Las Vegas.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX plans to launch its first manned trip to Mars by 2024.