Jeff Bezos’s pet aerospace exploration project is planning to send “several metric tons” of unspecified cargo to the Moon in the next five years.
Blue Origin, described by Bezos as “the most important work I’m doing,” signed a letter of intent with German aerospace companies OHB Space Systems and Security and MT Aerospace at the 69th annual International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Germany on Tuesday. The OHB SE dubbed the lunar project the “Blue Moon” mission in a press release.
It’s not clear exactly what cargo the Blue Moon mission would transport, but it likely includes infrastructure designed to start private business on the Moon: The IAC also detailed the launch of the “Moon Race,” a competition between Blue Origin, Airbus Air and Space, and other space agencies around the world to develop technology that will bring companies around the world to the Moon.
According to a press release, the competition could involve manufacturing products and technology, manufacturing energy sources for humans to survive, getting access to water and sustaining biological life, such as plant or agricultural life—all on the Moon.
The companies are relying on a generous interpretation of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 signed by the U.S., which bans ownership of private property in space. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved the Space Commercial Free Enterprise Act, which argues that American companies don’t have to abide by the rules set out in the treaty.
Blue Origin said in a press release that both the Blue Moon mission and Moon Race are in line with its goal to “land large payloads on the Moon that can access and utilize the resources found there.”
Perhaps space exploration serves as a convenient distraction for tech CEOs facing negative or critical press about their operations on Earth. On Tuesday, Bezos finally raised the minimum wage of Amazon warehouse workers around the country following months of Amazon worker strikes and criticism from media outlets and politicians such as Bernie Sanders. The next day, Amazon cut bonuses for hourly workers. The company continues to actively dissuade its workers from unionizing by showing propaganda videos.
Last month, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced a jazzy update about construction of the “Big Falcon Rocket” and its possible 2023 launch the day after Vernon Unsworth, a diver Musk repeatedly accused of being a “pedo,” filed a $75,000 defamation suit against Musk for reputational damage. Days later, Musk was sued by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) for securities fraud relating to his company, Tesla. He resigned as chairman of Tesla on Monday.
Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.