The latest private company to express an interest in returning to the moon is Jeff Bezo’s Blue Origin. According to the Washington Post, also owned by Bezos. The space launch company has proposed a vehicle called “#Blue Moon”: that would deliver robots to the south pole of the moon to begin the construction of a lunar base. The first landing could happen in 2020 if Blue Origin could execute a deal with NASA. The trope that Bezos is planning to extend “Amazon-like” delivery to the moon has already become established in the media narrative.
Ever since media report have started to appear about President Donald Trump’s interest in returning America to the moon using commercial partnerships, a number of private companies have stepped up to express interest. Recently, SpaceX announced that two paying passengers had put money down on a flight on board a Dragon spacecraft to be launched by a Falcon Heavy rocket around the moon as early in 2018. Bigelow Aerospace has proposed setting up a lunar orbital station to support the effort using its inflatable habitats.
So far President Trump has not made any explicit public statements concerning space, with the exception of a single in an address to a joint session of Congress. He has not even nominated an administrator for NASA, though Rep. Jim Bridenstine is said to be the frontrunner for that position. But the aerospace community is in keen anticipation, waiting for an announcement of some sort. The first hint of the president’s intentions for NASA will doubtless appear in his budget request. The level of funding the space agency is likely to get is uncertain. Trump intends to give the military a healthy boost in spending to be paid for with cuts in domestic accounts.
Still, a return to the moon program that includes commercial participation might not cost as much as an Apollo-style effort led by NASA. Indeed, space tourism and lunar mining might make such an effort pay for itself. NASA is looking at its own circumlunar mission to possibly take place in 2019.
Exciting times may well be ahead. #Jeff Bezos