Bezos To Unveil "Moon Mission" Plans In Race With Elon Musk

Having monopolized the earth, the world's richest man turns his attention toward the stars.

On Thursday, billionaire Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will unveil plans for upcoming missions to the moon, according to Reuters. The plans will be tailored to the US government's renewed push to establish a lunar outpost over the next five years. The plans will also likely put Bezos in direct competition with Elon Musk's SpaceX, who is also working on similar "lunar plans."

Bezos will host a media event at 4pm EDT on Thursday on behalf of his space exploration company, Blue Origin. The event will provide “an update on our progress and share our vision of going to space to benefit Earth," according to Bezos. 

The company has, for the most part, been quiet about its strategy for moon exploration. However, people familiar with the plans told Reuters that Bezos will lay out details on both lunar mission and a new lunar lander spacecraft that Blue Origin is developing. The idea of a human outpost on the moon is also expected to be up for discussion. 

Back in March, Vice President Mike Pence called on NASA to build a space platform in lunar orbit and to put American astronauts back on the moon by 2024 "by any means necessary". This timeline is 4 years quicker than previously planned and Bezos is expected to tailor his plans to align with Pence's timeline request. Meeting the timeline could help Blue Origin attract funds from NASA and one source has said that the company has been working to accelerate its strategy specifically based on Pence's comments. 

Blue Origin hinted at the announcement with a Twitter post last month showing the ship used by explorer Ernest Shackleton on an expedition to Antarctica. Reuters, without sarcasm, said that the Tweet could be "a possible reference to an impact crater on the lunar south pole sharing the man’s name." One hopes that Bezos' lunar ambitions don't meet the same end.

Bezos, like his competitor Musk, has shared a broader vision of a future where millions live and work in space. Bezos also faces competition from United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin.

Blue Origin is working on its New Shepard rocket for short space trips and a rocket called New Glenn for potential satellite launch contracts. Its timeline target for delivering its New Glenn rocket is 2021, while its plans to launch humans in a suborbital flight in New Shepard are set for later this year.