Blue Origin Reveals its Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle: Blue Ring

Artist rendering of Blue Origin’s spacecraft platform, Blue Ring, which is seen featuring a multitude of payloads and accessories. (Credit: Blue Origin)

The Jeff Bezos-founded aerospace company, Blue Origin, recently announced its new and upcoming Swiss army knife-style spacecraft platform, Blue Ring, which comes after very little public discussion by Blue Origin regarding this project. For example, a January 2023 story broke when Blue Origin briefly announced a job posting for “Blue Ring Senior Program Manager” on its “Careers” page, but the job was pulled less than 24 hours later. Overall, Blue Origin has been quite mum about Blue Ring.

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Does Beaming Power in Space Make Sense at the Moon?

Greater Earth Lunar Power Station. Credit: ESA

Space-based solar power (SBSP) is considered one of the most promising technologies for addressing Climate Change. The concept calls for satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to collect power without interruption and beam it to receiving stations on Earth. This technology circumvents the main limiting factor of solar energy, which is how it is subject to the planet’s diurnal cycle and weather. While the prospect of SBSP has been considered promising for decades, it’s only in recent years that it has become practical, thanks to the declining costs of sending payloads to space.

However, the technology has applications beyond providing Earth with abundant clean energy. The European Space Agency (ESA) is also investigating it as a means of proving power on the Moon through the “Clean Energy – New Ideas for Solar Power from Space” study, which recently yielded a technology demonstrator known as the Greater Earth Lunar Power Station (GEO-LPS). This technology could provide a steady supply of power for future operations on the Moon, which include creating a permanent lunar base like the ESA’s proposed Moon Village.

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