While the media was fixated on SpaceX’s Elon Musk’s presentation of his vision of colonizing Mars, it turns out that another billionaire CEO has an idea for spreading humanity across the solar system. According to Geek Wire, Rob Meyerson, the President of Jeff BezosSpace company Blue Origin, was at the same conference in Guadalajara where Musk rolled out his Mars scheme and mentioned in passing his boss’s vision for both Mars and the moon.

During a discussion on Blue Origin’s upcoming rocket, the New Glenn, capable of taking cargo and people to Earth orbit and, in a three-stage configuration, payloads to deep space, an audience member asked him about a launch vehicle that is even farther in the future, the New Armstrong. What is that rocket envisioned for?

Meyerson confirmed the suspicion of many observers that New Armstrong is a super heavy lift rocket envision for trips back to the moon and on to Mars.

Bezos has previously articulated a vision of millions of people living in space by the end of this century. The New Armstrong would seem to be at the center of that vision.

With Musk aiming at Mars and Bezos hinting at his own vision for space settlements, the prospect of a new space race has been set up, but this time not so much between two countries but rather between two CEOs who grew up in the shadow of the Apollo program and “Star Trek.” Two men who have made vast fortunes in the Dot.Com revolution now propose to use their wealth to open up the high frontier of space.

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Where does such a space race leave agencies such as NASA, not to mention countries such as Russia and the European Union? Certainly, nation states will have a role, paving the way through regulatory reform and pumping resources into a race to the moon and Mars as customers of the efforts. The vision is not quite what was imagined during the Apollo moon landings. But, perhaps, Musk and Bezos vying against one another to see who can expand human civilization beyond the Earth will become a greater development than anything hitherto imagined.

 

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