- Dave Mosher/Business Insider
- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said at an event on Wednesday that the fastest way to get to Mars is by settling on the moon first.
- Bezos said it’s an “illusion” to skip going back to the moon before heading to Mars, saying it provides a much better launchpad for reaching the red planet than Earth.
- The comments could be seen as a veiled jab of fellow tech tycoon Elon Musk, whose company SpaceX’s stated ambition is to get to Mars.
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Jeff Bezos said trying to get to Mars before going back to the moon is an “illusion.”
Speaking at the JFK Space Summit in Boston on Wednesday, Bezos talked about his ambitions to establish a settlement on the moon with his space exploration company Blue Origin. Previously, Bezos has said he wants the company to build a “sustained human presence” there.
He said setting up any kind of permanent settlement on the moon would require collaboration between numerous companies and probably multiple governments.
“What I really hope is that we stick with going back to the moon, this time to stay, because that is actually the fastest way to get to Mars. It’s an illusion that you can skip a step. Skipping steps slows you down, it’s seductive but wrong,” said Bezos.
The Amazon CEO elaborated by saying that it would be theoretically easier to propel bulk materials from the moon than the Earth, due to its low gravity.
“If you’re gonna need a lot of supplies and fuel and bulk materials to go to Mars, you’re much better lifting them off the moon than you are lifting them off the Earth. It’s a gigantic lever,” he said.
“Go to the moon, get yourself set up there. Mine propellants there. Build a fuel depot there,” he said. Bezos has previously said the Blue Origin lunar lander – Blue Moon – is designed to be fuelled by hydrogen and oxygen partially because that means it could use reserves of ice, which can be found in lunar craters.
His comments could be seen as an attack on fellow tech billionaire and space-colonization hopeful Elon Musk, whose company SpaceX’s ambition is to fly humans to Mars and eventually settle them there.
The pair have exchanged numerous barbs over their space race. When launching Blue Moon last month, Bezos’ slides included a reference to Musk’s red planet mission, suggesting that the moon is the more realistic ambition. Musk hit back by comparing Bezos’ lunar lander to male genitals.
The moon isn’t entirely off SpaceX’s radar, in February it flew the first ever private lunar mission to place an Israeli lander on the surface of the moon. The mission was a failure, as the lander’s main engine failed causing it to crash.
SpaceX is also planning to launch the first tourist flight around the back of the moon in 2023, and named its first passenger Yusaku Maezawa back in September. Musk’s sights have long been set on the red planet, however, and SpaceX has been developing Mars rockets at a launch site in South Texas since 2014.
You can watch Jeff Bezos’ fireside chat at the JFK Space Summit here: