Could Blue Origin beat NASA back to the Moon ? Image Credit: YouTube / Blue Origin
Blue Origin's billionaire founder has unveiled a new spacecraft designed to touch down on the Moon.
Announced during an exclusive presentation in Washington on May 9th, the new lander is reportedly capable of delivering cargo, robotic rovers and even astronauts to the surface of the Moon.
Although it loosely resembles NASA's original Apollo lunar module, the new vehicle is almost entirely autonomous and is able to land and deploy its payload without human intervention.
A star tracker and flash LIDAR system will also enable it to navigate on its own as well.
"Now that we have mapped the entire Moon in great detail, we can use those preexisting maps to tell the system what it should be looking for in terms of craters and other features, and it navigates relative to that," said Bezos. "It uses the actual terrain of the Moon as guideposts."
Blue Moon will be equipped with Blue Origin's new BE-7 engines which use a combination of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen - two components that can theoretically be replenished from the Moon's own resources should scientists find a way to mine them.
"We know a lot now about the Moon that we didn't know back in the Apollo days or even really just 20 years ago," said Bezos.
"One of the most important things we know about the Moon today is that there's water there."