Blue Origin has its sights set on the moon, where only the governments have landed. Billionaire Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos last month announced his extraterrestrial ambitions by revealing a mockup of Blue Origin’s lunar lander, dubbed Blue Moon. Three years of work have already gone into developing the spacecraft, but Bezos last month admitted a key problem that Blue Origin needed to be solved – the rocket engine.
Blue Origin’s answer is an engine called BE-7, and this week it underwent its first-ever test fire.
And video footage posted on Twitter showed the rocket fire for 35-seconds.
This allowed Blue Origin engineers to check for any flaws or risks, and everything appeared to go to plan.
Landing on the Moon understandably requires the precise propulsion capabilities possible.
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They have to be even more accurate than a launch vehicle or other types of spacecrafts, in order to make a soft touchdown and a safe liftoff back into space.
There is still a long road ahead for the BE-7 engine.
It will be the first of innumerable tests the BE-7 will undergo before a Blue Moon lander is ever strapped to a rocket and flown to space.
Blue Origin hopes that will take place for the first time in 2024.
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For an actual moon landing, the engine will need to fire for about six minutes, Jeff Bezos announced.
The Amazon CEO tweeted: “First hotfire of our #BE7 lunar landing engine just yesterday at Marshall Space Flight Centre.
“Data looks great and hardware is in perfect condition.
“Test went full planned duration – 35 seconds. Kudos to the whole @BlueOrigin team and grateful to @NASA_Marshall for all the help!”
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Mr Bezos’s ultimate goal for Blue Moon is to help usher in a new lunar economy, where companies have reliable access to the Moon and can work on everything from resource mining to scientific exploration.
One day, he hopes there will be “thousands of entrepreneurs” working in space.
In the nearer term, Blue Moon could get serious backing from US space agency NASA.
NASA has its sights set on returning astronauts to the lunar surface in 2024, and Blue Origin has already made a short list of companies who could help build a crew-worthy lunar lander.
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