Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and space company Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos, said his space mission will take the first women on the moon’s surface, as NASA nears a decision to pick its first privately built lunar landers capable of sending astronauts to the moon by 2024.
“This (BE-7) is the engine that will take the first woman to the surface of the Moon,” Bezos said in a post on Instagram with a video of the engine test this week at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
The Blue Origin has been developing the BE-7 engine for years, has tallied 1,245 seconds of test-fire time, and will power the company’s National Team Human Landing System lunar lander.
Bezos’s space company is the prime contractor of the “national team” which was made in 2019, to help build the Blue Moon Lander. The team includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper.
With rivals like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Dynetics, owned by Leidos Holdings, Blue Origin has vied for lucrative government contracts in recent years and is competing, to get the contract from NASA’s mission, to ferry humans to the moon in the next decade.
Earlier in April, Blue Origin got the contract from NASA to a lunar lander, worth $579 million (around Rs 4,300 crores), SpaceX received the tender to help the space agency develop its Starship system worth $135 million (around Rs 1,000 crores) and Leidos-owned Dynetics was awarded a contract worth $253 million (around Rs 1,900 crores).
NASA is poised to pick two of the three companies “in early March” 2021 to continue building their lander prototypes for crewed missions to the moon beginning in 2024, an agency spokeswoman has said.
Slim funds for the landing systems made available to NASA by United States Congress, as well as uncertainty over the incoming Biden administration’s views on space exploration, have threatened to delay NASA’s decision to advance the lunar lander contracts.