Jeff Bezos’ space agency Blue Origin will bring the first woman to the surface of the moon, the billionaire said on Friday as NASA nears a decision to choose its first privately-built lunar landers capable of sending astronauts to the moon by 2024 .
REUTERS: Jeff Bezos’ space company Blue Origin will bring first woman to the surface of the moon, billionaire said Friday as NASA nears a decision to choose its first privately built lunar landers capable of sending astronauts to the moon by 2024 .
“This (BE-7) is the engine that will bring the first woman to the surface of the moon,” Bezos said in an Instagram post featuring a video of the engine test this week at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. .
The BE-7 engine, developed by Blue Origin for many years, has achieved 1,245 seconds of test fire time and will power the company’s National Team Human Landing System lunar lander.
Blue Origin is leading a “national team” as a prime contractor who assembled it in 2019 to assist in the construction of its Blue Moon lander. That team consists of Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Draper.
Blue Origin has competed for lucrative government contracts in recent years, competing with rival billionaire Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Dynetics, owned by Leidos Holdings Inc, to win a contract to build NASA’s next human lunar landing system around humans in the next decade.
In April, NASA awarded a contract for the development of lunar landers to the Blue Origin team worth $ 579 million, as well as two other companies: SpaceX, which received $ 135 million to help develop its Starship system, and Dynetics, owned by Leidos, which won $ 253 million.
NASA is poised to pick two of the three companies “in early March 2021” to continue building their lander prototypes for manned missions to the moon from 2024, a spokeswoman for the agency said.
But small funding for the landing systems made available to NASA by Congress, as well as uncertainty about the incoming Biden administration’s views on space exploration, have threatened to delay NASA’s decision to advance lunar lander contracts.
(Reported by Joey Roulette in Washington and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; edited by Diane Craft)