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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While there may not be money in harvesting resources from the Moon yet, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is playing the long game, developing its capabilities in preparation for the day that could pay off.

The big picture: In the short term, the company wants to help NASA get astronauts back to the Moon. In the long term, Blue Origin hopes to bring about a future where millions of people are living and working in space, sustained, at least in part, by harvesting resources from the Moon.

"It's this generation's responsibility to go build the infrastructure around getting to orbit, getting into space cheaply and reliably."
— Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin to Axios

Yes, but: It's difficult to build a business around mining resources from the Moon without properly characterizing what is there. Blue Origin is working with a team of science advisers to figure out what sites on the surface might be most attractive for these kinds of operations, Smith said.

Blue Origin's next step toward bringing about Bezos' vision of the future hinges on the company's Blue Moon lander, which has been in development for about 3 years.

  • The lander could bring cargo and eventually people down to the lunar surface.
  • One day Blue Origin also hopes to use water harvested from the Moon to make propellant that would fuel Blue Moon.
  • "It's really central to what we're about at Blue Origin, that we get to the point where we can utilize lunar resources for developments in space," Smith said.

Details: In 2023, the company hopes to send a cargo lander to the surface of the Moon.

  • "We'd follow that up in our proposal with two flights," Smith said. "One would be an integrated lander that's uncrewed in '24 and then by the end of '24, putting a crewed mission on the surface."
  • Both of those missions could fly to the surface from the Gateway — the small space station NASA plans to build in orbit.
  • Smith says that this timeline is dependent on NASA's support.

NASA is hoping to partner with private industry to get astronauts back to the Moon's surface by 2024 as part of its Artemis program, so Blue Origin is looking to capitalize on that effort.

But it's not just about NASA. According to Smith, multiple companies, universities and other space agencies have also approached Blue Origin looking to capitalize on its Blue Moon system.

  • These kinds of partnerships are key for Blue Origin and any other spaceflight company looking to turn a profit.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Netanyahu is out as new Israeli government survives confidence vote

Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images

Israel has a new prime minister for the first time since 2009 after a power-sharing government led by Naftali Bennett survived a confidence vote on Sunday. Bennett was sworn in as prime minister.

Why it matters: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister and the man around whom Israeli politics have revolved for a decade, will now become opposition leader. Bennett, a right-wing former Netanyahu protege, will lead the most ideologically diverse government in Israeli history.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Afghanistan, cyber defense on the agenda for Biden in Brussels

Joe Biden arrives at Melsbroek Military Airport in Brussels on June 13. Photo: Yves Herman/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden touched down in Brussels on Sunday evening ahead of two days of talks with NATO and European Union leaders as part of his first foreign trip as president.

Driving the news: Biden was greeted on the tarmac by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and a slate of other officials, including Douglas Jones and Mark Libby, the U.S. Permanent Representatives to NATO and the EU respectively.

Maersk CEO: Global businesses should be wary of politics

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

The CEO of the world's largest container-shipping company cautions that international firms have to be careful of taking political stances.

  • What they're saying: "We cannot run a global business if we start to have views on politics in every single country that we are in," Maersk CEO Søren Skou tells "Axios on HBO."