Amazon and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos was at the Seattle Museum of Flight recently when he conducted a Question And Answer session with a group of school children. The event took place against a backdrop of the museum’s Apollo exhibit which features pieces of an F1 Saturn V engine that Bezos had recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic as well as an intact F1 that was never flown during the talk and question and answer. The Internet billionaire laid out his vision of a lunar settlement.

How the Blue Moon company could help NASA return to the moon

Bezos expanded on a previous announcement of a new business called Blue Moon that would transport and land things on the lunar surface. He suggested that his new enterprise could deploy the pieces of a lunar settlement as well as robots to assemble it. Other robots could prospect for and then mine resources such as water ice and volatile materials are known to reside in the shadowed areas of the lunar poles. In such an arrangement, the first people to return to the moon would have living quarters and much of the consumables they need to live waiting for them. All that would be needed is a partnership between NASA and the commercial sector.

Vertical takeoff and landing is the key

Bezos’ space launch company, Blue Origin, had been pioneering the technology of vertical Takeoff And Landing spacecraft. The New Shepard, a spaceship designed to take tourists to and from the edge of space, has already taken off and landed multiple times at the Blue Origin test range in West Texas.

The same technology could be adapted for reusable VTOL craft to access the surface of the moon.

The spirit of Apollo

Bezos, as have been many of his generation, was inspired by memories of watching the first Apollo missions to the moon when he was but five years old. In many ways, Apollo turned out to be a bittersweet experience.

The lunar program did not lead to a great age of space exploration, with lunar bases and missions to Mars that many thought at the time would take place later in the 20th Century. Bad politics and a lack of leadership led to such dreams being unrealized. Bezos, as well as other business titans such as his rival Elon Musk, are using the experience they gained making billions during the Internet revolution to create that lost future, perhaps a few decades later than many would have hoped. The commercial space revolution is one of the most underappreciated developments of our time.