- Blue Origin, a space company owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, seeks to build a moon-friendly spacecraft able to transport dwelling gear for future inhabitation, the Washington Post reported last week.
- Its first lunar mission could happen by 2020, though only via cooperation with NASA. Bezos has promised to invest personally if the joint project lifts off the ground.
- In 2016, Blue Origin supported five expeditions with the New Shepard, its own suborbital rocket. The New Shepard successfully traveled the 62 miles to the edge of space before returning home to Texas.
Though Amazon would like to fulfill its dream of the ultimate in on-point delivery, the cost of shipping to space is astonishingly high.
According to recent estimates, a single 16-ounce bottle of water costs between $9,100 to $43,180 to carry. Leafy greens — 16 pounds worth — cost roughly $145,600 to $690,900. A 3.5 ounce lemon costs $2,000 to $9,446 per piece. And this cost is if a space capsule transporting cargo docks successfully, of course, which doesn't always happen on the first try. For example, in late February, an Elon Musk-financed Space X Dragon capsule came within 1,200 feet of the international space station (ISS) before withdrawing. NASA reported later that flight computers prompted the withdrawal after acknowledging an error within the navigation data.
How successful is Blue Origin likely to be, given the cost and potential for space delivery inaccuracies? With time for error and enough money, success is almost always reasonable. The question, and the challenge, is at what point does the benefit of sending freshly squeezed lemonade to the moon outweigh the cost.