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Billionaire Bezos discloses plans for moon presence, unveils lander mockup

 Billionaire Bezos discloses plans for moon presence, unveils lander mockup

By Joey Roulette

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Billionaire entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, founder of rocket company Blue Origin, unveiled on Thursday a mockup of a lunar lander spacecraft and discussed missions to the moon in a strategy tailored to the U.S. government's renewed push to establish a lunar outpost in just five years.

Bezos, the world's richest man and also chief executive and founder of Amazon.com, told a rare media event in Washington that the lander, named Blue Moon, could deliver payloads to the moon's surface and deploy payloads during journey to Moon.

"It's time to go back to the moon - this time to stay," Bezos said.

Bezos described the lander as a nearly two-story tall spacecraft that can deploy four smaller lunar rovers on the lunar surface.

"This is an incredible vehicle and it's going to the moon," he added.

Privately held Blue Origin, based in Kent, Washington, is developing its New Shepard rocket for short space tourism trips and a heavy-lift launch rocket called New Glenn for satellite launch contracts. It is aiming to deliver the New Glenn rocket by 2021, while launching humans in a suborbital flight later this year atop its rocket-and-capsule New Shepard.

Blue has also previously discussed a human outpost on the moon.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in March called on NASA to build a space platform in lunar orbit and put American astronauts on the moon's south pole by 2024 "by any means necessary," four years earlier than previously planned.

"I love this," Bezos said of Pence's timeline. "It's the right thing to do. We can help meet that timeline."

NASA has already set its sights on the moon's south pole, a region believed to hold enough recoverable ice water for use in synthesizing additional rocket fuel as well as for drinking water.

Bezos, who has talked about his broader vision of enabling a future in which millions of people live and work in space, has been intent on moving Blue Origin closer to commercialization.

His vision is shared by other billionaire-backed private space ventures like Elon Musk's SpaceX and aerospace incumbents like United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin.

The Bezos announcement came about two months before the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.

While Bezos is angling to become a leading player in space exploration and win business from the U.S. government, he has been the target of repeated criticism from President Donald Trump, who has referred to him as Jeff "Bozo." Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which Trump has frequently targeted in his broadsides about "fake news."

(Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington, D.C.; Additional reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Will Dunham and Leslie Adler)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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Updated Date: May 10, 2019 03:05:30 IST