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Blue Origin makes its pitch for moonshots

Blue Moon lander
An artist’s concept shows the Blue Moon lander on the lunar surface. (Blue Origin Illustration)

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, joined other companies today in laying out plans for commercial missions to the moon during a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill.

“It’s time for America to return to the moon, this time to stay,” Brett Alexander, Blue Origin’s director of business development and strategy, told members of the House Subcommittee on Space. That declaration echoed Bezos’ oft-used phrase, virtually word for word.

Blue Origin has already been testing a suborbital space vehicle called New Shepard, with an eye toward taking on passengers as early as next year. It’s also developing a more powerful orbital-class rocket called New Glenn, which could be used as part of a lunar mission architecture known as Blue Moon.

Today Alexander said the Blue Moon lunar lander would be optimized to fly on NASA’s Space Launch System, a heavy-lift rocket that’s due for its first test flight in 2019. When paired with the SLS, Blue Moon could deliver more than 5 tons of cargo to the lunar surface. Smaller payloads could be delivered using New Glenn or other rockets.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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