Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin enters the race to Mars against Elon Musk
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Featured Image Credit: Geopix / ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo
After successfully travelling to space, Jeff Bezos has now joined Elon Musk in the race to Mars as Blue Origin has been selected by NASA for a new mission.
The space company is determined to carry 'both crew and cargo to Earth orbit, the Moon, Mars and beyond', but they've got competition.
The mission is intended to study Mars’ magnetosphere, otherwise known as the magnetised area of space around the planet.
Using two identical small spacecrafts, NASA will record simultaneous two-point observations to gain a better understanding of how the magnetosphere on Mars interacts with the solar wind, and how energy and plasma enter and leave the magnetosphere.
All of this will in turn offer scientists a better understanding of weather in space; information which will help protect both astronauts and satellites as they orbit Earth and explore the solar system.
The mission is expected to launch in late 2024 using Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, and will take about 11 months to arrive at Mars after leaving Earth's orbit.
Though this particular mission won't be transporting any humans to Mars, New Glenn is capable of carrying people and features a reusable first stage built for 25 missions.
Jarrett Jones, senior vice president of New Glenn at Blue Origin, expressed the company's excitement at taking on the project as he commented: “ESCAPADE follows a long tradition of NASA Mars science and exploration missions, and we’re thrilled NASA’s Launch Services Program has selected New Glenn to launch the instruments that will study Mars’ magnetosphere."
Blue Origin's success in securing the NASA mission comes after the company previously tried to sue the space agency over its decision to award a contract to SpaceX.
The $2.9 billion (£2.37b) deal granted SpaceX the opportunity to build a lunar lander to transport astronauts to the Moon, though Blue Origin argued NASA was 'unlawful and improper' when it evaluated the three proposals for the project.
Blue Origin ultimately lost the lawsuit, but hopefully their new mission to Mars will make up for it - if Musk doesn't try to sue, that is.