Head of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has said he wants to begin delivering packages to the moon in anticipation of the establishment of human settlements there.
According to The Washington Post, Bezos has penned a seven page white paper on behalf of his private space travel company Blue Origin which encourages NASA and the Trump administration to back an Amazon-like commercial lunar shipment service. Specifically, his shipment service.
By mid-2020, he thinks Blue Origin could be used to deliver experiment equipment as well as cargo and gear for building habitats to enable “future human settlement” on the moon.
Bezos stresses, however, that it could “only be done in partnership with NASA.”
NASA isn’t unwilling to work with the commercial sector; already it’s providing technical expertise, though no funding, to SpaceX for its planned uncrewed mission to Mars.
Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, told them “It is time for America to return to the Moon — this time to stay. A permanently inhabited lunar settlement is a difficult and worthy objective. I sense a lot of people are excited about this.”
There has indeed been renewed interest in space tourism to the moon; SpaceX’s Elon Musk recently announced plans to send two private citizens on a trip around the moon as soon as late next year.
NASA similarly announced it’s considering adding astronauts to the first flight of its Space Launch System. The flight was originally scheduled to circle the moon without humans in 2018 but it may now have a crew for a 2019 mission instead.
Unlike SpaceX, Bezos’ Blue Origin wouldn’t be involved in transporting people to the moon – instead its vehicle outlined in the white paper would focus on carrying 10,000 pounds of cargo to the moon’s south pole, specifically near the Shackleton Crater.
This would be an ideal landing spot for Blue Origin to secure as it has near-continuous sunlight to provide power to the spacecraft’s solar arrays. However, it’s unclear whether or not a private company has any right to claim any land on the moon just yet, particularly high-value locations like the Shackleton Crater.