Nasa, SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic – who will put humans back on the Moon first?

Nasa is lining up against Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin in a who-can-flash-the-most-cash battle of …

WITH Amazon boss Jeff Bezos promising this week to land humans on the Moon by 2024, the all-new space race is gathering pace.

Nasa is lining up against Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin in a who-can-flash-the-most-cash battle of the billionaires.

 Jeff Bezos has unveiled the lunar lander he hopes will take people to the moon within five years

AFP or licensors
Jeff Bezos has unveiled the lunar lander he hopes will take people to the moon within five years

Each is fighting to build a rocket that can take people to space on the cheap – and almost all of them are gunning for the Moon.

Whoever gets there first will make an inordinate amount of cash via exclusive deals with global space agencies.

They’ll carry cargo and astronauts to Earth’s rocky neighbour for sums in the hundreds of millions of dollars and stake a claim as the world’s pioneering space experts.

Humans haven’t set foot on the moon since 1972. We’ve summed up who’s taking us back – and when – below.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos unveils Blue Origin’s lunar lander called Blue Moon

Blue Origin

Blue Origin is a private space firm based in Seattle, USA.

It’s run and funded by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos – the world’s richest man.

Like bitter rival SpaceX, Blue Origin is aiming to make space travel cheaper via reusable rockets.

So far, its work has mostly focussed on brief space flights for tourists, but the firm recently announced intentions to go to the moon.

On Thursday, Bezos unveiled a new lunar lander built by Blue Origin that he hopes will take people to the moon by 2024.

He wants to land a robotic ship the size of a small house dubbed Blue Moon on the rock using a brand new rocket engine.

Bezos hopes to help Nasa build a permanent moon base. He said: “It’s time to go back to the moon. This time to stay.”

 Outside of its moon ambitions, Blue Origin wants to begin sending paying tourists on short space flights. Pictured is a test of one of its New Shepherd rockets, which will carry out its first manned test launch later this year

Reuters
Outside of its moon ambitions, Blue Origin wants to begin sending paying tourists on short space flights. Pictured is a test of one of its New Shepherd rockets, which will carry out its first manned test launch later this year
 British billionaire Sir Richard Branson

AFP or licensors
British billionaire Sir Richard Branson

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has not announced any goals to reach the moon, instead sticking to tourist flights to the edge of space.

It’s run by British billionaire Richard Branson, who founded the firm in 2004.

Virgin Galactic sent its first manned flight to space last year – the first private space firm to do so.

Its rocket/plane hybrid SpaceShipTwo Unity soared 50 miles above Earth in December ahead of the company’s first commercial spaceflights for private passengers later this year.

 Virgin Galactic will use a rocket/plane hybrid to fly tourists to the edge of space

PA:Press Association
Virgin Galactic will use a rocket/plane hybrid to fly tourists to the edge of space

AP:Associated Press

SpaceX is run by Tesla boss Elon Musk

SpaceX

Run by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk, SpaceX is seen by many as the front runner in the new space race.

It regularly launches its reusable Falcon 9 rockets on missions for agencies like Nasa and the US National Security Agency.

SpaceX’s main goal is launching satellites and eventually astronauts for these high-paying punters.

But it also has ambitions to travel further using a new long-distance rocket currently in development, dubbed Starship.

If all goes according to plan, Starship will launch a Japanese billionaire on a round-the-moon mission in 2023.

SpaceX has no public ambitions to actually land people on the moon. Its grand plan involves settling other worlds such as Mars.

Musk has repeatedly said the goal of SpaceX is to help humanity become a “multi-planet species”.

 SpaceX plans to use a new rocket dubbed Starship to carry people to the Moon and beyond

Social Media – Refer to Source
SpaceX plans to use a new rocket dubbed Starship to carry people to the Moon and beyond
 Nasa boss Jim Bridenstine

EPA
Nasa boss Jim Bridenstine

Nasa

Nasa wants to build a “lunar gateway” in orbit around the Moon, a mini version of the International Space Station.

Its current ambitions are to have the manned Moon base in place by 2028.

Nasa boss Jim Bridenstine said in March: “We will go to the Moon in the next decade with innovative, new technologies and systems to explore more locations across the lunar surface than ever before.

“This time, when we go to the Moon, we will stay.”

 Artist's impression of Nasa's Lunar Gateway orbiting base

Nasa
Artist’s impression of Nasa’s Lunar Gateway orbiting base

The plan, which has been in development for a few years, relies on a lunar outpost that Nasa calls Gateway.

This is a permanent space station that orbits the Moon and houses astronauts, laboratory experiments and more.

Once finished, astronauts and robot probes will fly down to the lunar surface to conduct experiments.

Construction on Gateway is expected to begin as soon as 2022, and Nasa plans to complete the base within the next 10 years.

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Nasa revealed plans for a permanent moon base last year, with boss Jim Bridenstine declaring “we want lots of humans in space”.

It recently picked Blue Origin rival SpaceX to front a world-first mission to deflect a hazardous space rock by crashing a spaceship into it in 2022.

And here are the space mysteries that Nasa simply can’t explain.

Are you excited about next week’s Blue Origin announcement? Let us know in the comments!


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Retail news from around the world

In 2016, Tesla bought SolarCity for US$2.6 billion ($3.72 billion) and sought to align the business with its aspirational luxury car brand. The move was …

Founded in 2008 and based in Berlin, Zalando has grown rapidly thanks to its offer of free delivery and free returns, but it has seen average order sizes fall as customers shop more often on smartphones but spend less each time, pushing up its logistic costs.

Other steps Zalando has taken to boost average order sizes include adding beauty products to its range and making size recommendations to reduce the likelihood of returns.

It also plans to expand its loyalty scheme “Zalando Plus” to France and Italy in the next 12 months, and extend it to more customers in Germany and Switzerland.

Retailers are looking to mimic the success of Amazon’s Prime subscription service, which has been shown to boost customer loyalty and encourage more frequent shopping.

Online tool flags ethical palm oil

A new online shopping tool gives Singaporeans the option of buying products made using ethical palm oil, a move to try to get a grip on the region’s haze fires which are caused by massive burnings by plantations.

Launched by the non-profit Singapore-based People’s Movement to Stop Haze (PM Haze) and advertising agency Havas Group, EcoCart is a Google Chrome “plug-in” that allows online shoppers to identify items that use sustainably produced palm oil.

As well as flagging items that do not contain sustainable palm oil, the tool suggests similar products that do.

The first of its kind to be built and launched, according to PM Haze, the tool has a target of getting Singaporeans to make 500,000 “switches” by the end of this year and hopes to expand it to identify other ethically produced goods if successful.

Hugo Boss pins hopes on revamp

German fashion house Hugo Boss said the renovation of several major stores should revive sales growth after it reported a drop in first-quarter earnings due to reorganisation costs, higher marketing spending and a strong US dollar.

Finance chief Yves Mueller said stores had already been reopened in New York and Tokyo, while the refurbishment of the company’s biggest flagship store on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and a store in Chicago will be complete after the northern summer.

“Store optimisations will drive performance,” Mueller told Reuters.

Hugo Boss shares slipped after it reported first-quarter operating profit fell 22 per cent to €55 million ($87.8 million) on sales up a currency-adjusted 1 per cent to €664 million ($1.06 billion), missing average analyst forecasts.

Sales fell a currency-adjusted 8 per cent in the Americas, as visits to stores were hit by weaker consumer sentiment and lower tourist purchases.

Sainsbury’s goes back to basics

Sainsbury’s boss Mike Coupe vowed to improve stores, cut prices on daily essentials and invest in online to restore sales growth for Britain’s second-largest supermarket group after its mooted takeover of rival Asda was knocked back by the corporate regulator last month.

Coupe said Sainsbury’s would evolve, rather than dramatically change, a strategy that is designed to meet changing customer habits – more frequent shopping trips, the demand for more convenience and more shopping online.

Chief executive since 2014 and well regarded by shareholders before the failed deal, Coupe is now under pressure to show Sainbury’s can proper on its own.

He said he would not quit and was committed to restoring growth.

Amazon expands reach in Israel

E-commerce giant Amazon has reached out to Israeli retailers to enable them to sell directly to customers in Israel using its online platform, to the consternation of local retailers and shopping centres.

There has long been speculation in Israel’s media that Amazon plans to expand further into the country by opening a local fulfilment centre since many Israelis already order from Amazon’s sites in the US, Britain and Germany.

With the cost of living high, sites such as Amazon have become increasingly popular in Israel since orders below US$75 are exempt from taxes, while orders up to US$500 are free from customs taxes.

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Jeff Bezos unveils Blue Moon lunar lander and plans for huge space colonies

Elon Musk is working on SpaceX, a larger company that’s further ahead in developing larger rockets for orbital space travel. Richard Branson’s Virgin …
launch

Jeff Bezos, we saw you standing alone, with a dream in your heart, and a moon lander of your own.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, unveiled on Thursday a new moon lander called Blue Moon, along with a smaller rover.

“This is an incredible vehicle and it’s going to the moon,” Bezos said at a press event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, where he stood in front of the hulking new lander on stage.

At the event, Bezos, the world’s richest person according to Forbes, described a grand, multigenerational vision of one day creating enormous space colonies in close proximity to Earth, as a way of expanding humanity to a trillion people. This concept, envisioned by physicist Gerard O’Neill in 1975, is something Bezos has talked up in a few interviews over the past year. He’s looking to use Blue Origin, and the new lander, as early steps in this effort.

Now playing:Watch this: Jeff Bezos reveals plans for the moon and beyond
3:33

“This is Maui on its best day all year long. No rain, no storms, no earthquakes,” he said of these future space colonies, though he later added it’ll be up to future generations to build these massive structures. He described these sci-fi concepts to a relatively small audience of roughly a hundred or more people while he walked across the stage in a gray jacket and jeans, with the darkened ballroom bathed in blue light and the walls decorated in sparkly star lights.

Blue Moon was in development for three years and Bezos said Thursday that the larger variant of the lander will be able to bring Americans back to the moon by 2024. It’ll be able to carry the rover that could do scientific missions and shoot off small satellites.

“It’s time to go back to the moon, this time to stay,” Bezos said.

The year 2024 is also the deadline the Trump administration has set for NASA to return astronauts to the surface of the moon, something Bezos referenced on stage.

img-1741-2img-1741-2

The Blue Moon’s rover

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Bezos isn’t the only billionaire pursuing lofty space dreams. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is further along in developing larger rockets for orbital space travel. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is also working on space tourism. At least in the first few years, commercial space travel is expected to be so prohibitively expensive that only the superrich will be able to use these new services.

However, Bezos said Thursday that the early work of Blue Origin should help develop an infrastructure for space that’ll give millions of people access to space travel and unlock the potential of countless future entrepreneurs and artists. A major need to do this work, he said, is because the Earth is “finite,” so expanding to space will become a necessity one day to ensure humanity doesn’t fall into rationing and stagnation.

“The solar system can support a trillion humans, and then we’d have 1,000 Mozarts and 1,000 Einsteins,” Bezos said during a Yale Club talk in February. “Think how incredible and dynamic that civilization will be.”

Aside from these huge goals, Blue Origin this year is starting with space tourism flights, in hopes of growing its revenue and training itself for consistent flights outside Earth’s orbit.

Blue Origin first announced Thursday’s press event last month with a cryptic tweet including only the date and an image of the Endurance, the ship Ernest Shackleton sailed to the Antarctic as part of a failed attempt to cross the frigid continent more than a century ago.

Looking to inspire the next generation to keep up space development, Bezos announced the creation of the Club for the Future, which will focus on space-related activities for youths in grades K-12. The front rows of the event included dozens of kids who were the inaugural members of the new club.

The rare public appearance by Bezos in his capacity as space startup founder comes at a pivotal moment for Blue Origin. Last week it launched and landed one of its suborbital New Shepard rockets for the fifth time, bringing the company closer to its goal of developing reliably reusable rockets to make space travel much more accessible.

Also, Blue Origin has said repeatedly in recent months that it aims to launch a human to space aboard New Shepard for the first time later this year, paving the way for paying customers to experience microgravity.

Now playing:Watch this: Jeff Bezos is giving Elon Musk a run for his money with…
6:04

Bezos’ company is also building a bigger rocket, New Glenn, that’ll compete with orbital class rockets like the SpaceX Falcon 9 to deliver commercial satellites and other large payloads to orbit.

Blue Origin is rapidly expanding its footprint at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where it’s manufacturing New Glenn on land leased from NASA. The first launch of Blue Origin’s big rocket could come as soon as 2021.

As part of this ongoing space race, SpaceX, Amazon and others are planning to send into orbit thousands of satellites that’ll one day be able to beam broadband internet to millions of people around the world. SpaceX’s system is called Starlink, and Amazon’s, which was first revealed last month, is dubbed Project Kuiper. Blue Origin, meanwhile, is partnering with satellite operator Telesat on yet another internet satellite project.

Over the past year, Bezos has spoken publicly at a handful of notable gatherings, including a Wired conference in San Francisco, the Economic Club in Washington, DC, and the Yale Club in New York. Still, he’s rarely hosted his own press events in recent years. One of the last times he took the stage for his own announcement was in 2014 for the failed Fire Phone.

Next month, he’s expected to speak at his new re:MARS science and tech conference in Las Vegas.

His appearance in DC on Thursday comes after a rocky start to the year, with his divorce from his longtime wife, MacKenzie, quickly turning into a gossipy tabloid controversy that included him accusing the National Enquirer of blackmail.

Originally published 2:02 p.m.

Update 5:02 p.m.: Adds video.

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TECH REPORT: Facebook cuts ban on cryptocurrency ads, Amazon battles fraudsters

Amazon said it was hit by extensive fraud, revealing that unidentified hackers were able to siphon funds from merchants over the last year. Amazon …

Amazon said it was hit by extensive fraud, revealing that unidentified hackers were able to siphon funds from merchants over the last year.

Amazon believes it was the victim of serious hack attack by hackers who broke into about 100 seller accounts and funneled cash from loans or sales into their own bank account.

– Advertisement –

FACEBOOK LOOSENS BAN

Facebook on Wednesday said it is loosening its ban on ads related to blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies.

The change in policy comes amid reports that Facebook is ramping up efforts to build its own cryptocurrency.

Facebook first started blocking ads promoting cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings in January 2018 over concerns that users might be scammed.

ROBOT RESEARCH

A new video shows a humanoid robot crossing a balance beam with ease.

Robots struggle to walk across difficult terrain but that’s changing fast.

Researchers from the institute for human & machine cognition say the robot carefully moves across a series of narrow cinder blocks and a balance beam, revealing a degree of body control that many humans would struggle to maintain.

NASA is eyeing soft robots for dirty jobs on the moon and mars.

These robots don’t have the sharp angles and hard surfaces of most sci-fi robots. The researchers are building robotic actuators with soft silicone exteriors that can bend, flex and expand.

They move based on the amount of air in their chambers. The researchers see a future where soft robots move across the surface of the moon and work together to create temporary shelters.

-Jane King

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Warren Buffet Has Destroyed Any Reason to Avoid Amazon Stock

It only took Warren Buffett 22 years, but he’s finally corrected a severe error of omission by buying Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock for Berkshire …

It only took Warren Buffett 22 years, but he’s finally corrected a severe error of omission by buying Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) stock for Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE:BRK.A, NYSE:BRK.B) equity portfolio. Should you buy Amazon stock now that the legendary investor has finally given in to the allure of Jeff Bezos? Absolutely. Here’s why.

AMZN stock Amazon stockAMZN stock Amazon stock
AMZN stock Amazon stock

Source: Shutterstock

Buffett admitted May 3 that Berkshire bought Amazon stock during the first quarter. How much the company bought, we won’t know until the 13F holdings report is filed in a week.

It’s also important to point out that it wasn’t the 88-year-old that pulled the trigger on AMZN stock but one of either Todd Combs or Ted Weschler, the two men charged with overseeing Berkshire’s equity portfolio.

InvestorPlace – Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips

No matter. It’s semantics. The critical thing is BRK is now an owner of Amazon, what could be one of the best-performing investments of the next 10-20 years.

“Yeah, I’ve been a fan, and I’ve been an idiot for not buying,” Buffett told CNBC. “But I want you to know there are no personality changes taking place.”

One of the best things Buffett and sidekick Charlie Munger did was hire Combs and Weschler. It’s brought an added dynamic to the Berkshire equity portfolio. Long-term, that will be crucial to BRK continuing to grow after Buffett and Munger are out of the picture.

A Value Proposition

As I write this, Amazon is trading within $75 of a $2,000 share price, only the second time in the company’s 23-year history as a public company that it’s traded above this high-water mark. The last time being in September 2018.

Berkshire would have bought its Amazon stock somewhere between a high of $1,823.75 (March) and a low of $1,460.93 (January). Splitting the difference at $1,642.34, the holding company’s sitting on a 17% gain.

Not bad work if you can get it.

Amazon stock currently trades at 65 times forward earnings, almost 20 times book value, four times sales, and 28 times cash flow. All would be considered to possess growth-stock type valuation numbers.

Buffett insists that both Combs and Weschler adhere to value principles despite the appearance to the contrary.

Specifically, he’s suggesting that value has more to do with the price you pay today versus the amount you’ll receive in the future. It’s essentially “putting out money now to get more later on” based on the idea that Berkshire’s getting AMZN stock well below its intrinsic value.

If you know anything about Berkshire, you know that it’s the most patient investor on the planet. Therefore, if you were interested in owning Amazon before Buffett’s admission, you have to be a buyer today.

No ifs, ands, or buts.

The Bottom Line on Amazon Stock

Earlier this year I reiterated my call for Amazon to hit $10,000. Only this time (I first made the call in January 2018) I suggested it could hit $10,000 by 2023, two-and-a-half years earlier than my original projection.

I believe that Amazon’s shares will continue to move higher as it grows its advertising business and Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores. If it’s successful on both these fronts, $10,000 will seem like a very conservative number.

So, if you see Amazon ruling the world but are afraid to bet on its stock, Berkshire Hathaway makes a popular alternative because it’s the world’s biggest and cheapest mutual fund in disguise.

Sure, you might take a hit down the road when Buffett dies, but if you put some cash away between now and then, you’ll get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy some more at a severe discount

Buy Amazon or Buy Berkshire Hathaway. Either way, in ten years, you’ll have carried the day.

At the time of this writing Will Ashworth did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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