Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s advanced development programs and Blue Moon lunar lander.
BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET
Advanced Development Programs
Blue Origin is developing advanced technologies to enable space exploration and development, including a NASA Tipping Point contract to mature cryogenic liquid propulsion for integrated large-scale lunar lander applications and several years of progress on the Blue Moon Lunar Lander and its BE-7 lunar landing engine.
Blue Moon Lunar Lander
In development for several years, the Blue Moon lunar lander is capable of delivering several metric tons to the lunar surface. The flexibility of the system enables the delivery of a wide variety of small, medium and large payloads to the Moon – depending on the configuration.
- Blue Origin proposed to NASA to be the prime contractor for a Human Landing System (HLS) team that includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper. Blue will build upon its experience in developing the Blue Moon cargo lander with a derivative Descent Element. Blue believes this is a strong national team for a national priority to go back to the Moon – this time to stay.
- In development for several years, the BE-7 is a highly efficient, deep-throttling engine with restart capability that can power in-space systems. The highly throttleable BE-7 has a thrust of 40 kN (10,000 lbf), which enables large lunar payload transport.
- The BE-7’s propellants are a highly efficient combination of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, which can be found in abundance in the water ice on the lunar surface. The engine is offered to other companies for their in-space applications.
- The BE-7 engine started hot firing in the summer of 2019 and is currently in test at NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center in partnership with NASA. In total, BE-7 has accrued more than 13 minutes of total test time (more than 780 seconds) on multiple test articles with the most for any single test article being up to 3-minutes of continuous test time.
- In December 2019, Blue signed a 15-year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for testing of Blue Origin’s BE-7 engine at the Edwards Air Force Base in California. Blue will provide capital improvements to the facility where engine testing will occur.
- Blue Origin is currently performing trade studies under a NASA Next STEP-2 Appendix E contract to mature our Blue Moon lunar lander and related technologies to serve as Elements of NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS) architecture.
- Blue Origin is a part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative. And is eligible to bid on proposals to provide deliveries to the surface of the Moon.
- Blue Moon is a large cargo vehicle that can soft-land several metric tons of payload to the lunar surface.
- The lander and its BE-7 lunar landing engine have been in development for three years.
- The Descent Element proposed for HLS is a derivative of the work Blue has done on the cargo lander.