The world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, has announced he is going to send a spaceship to the moon.
The Amazon tycoon said his space company Blue Origin will land an unmanned robotic ship about the size of a house.
Known as Blue Moon, the lunar lander is capable of carrying four rovers and uses a newly designed rocket engine.
Mr Bezos told an audience in Washington DC that his space firm could also help NASA meet its target to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024.
He said: We can help meet that timeline but only because we started three years ago.
It’s time to go back to the moon, this time to stay.
The billionaire unveiled a model of one of Blue Moon’s proposed rovers, which was roughly the size of a golf cart, and presented a new rocket engine called BE-7 which can blast 10,000lbs of thrust.
Blue Origin is developing its New Shepard rocket for short space tourism trips and a heavy-lift launch rocket called New Glenn for satellite launch contracts.
It is aiming to deliver the New Glenn rocket by 2021, while launching humans in a suborbital flight later this year atop its rocket-and-capsule New Shepard.
Blue Origin has also previously discussed a human outpost on the moon.
Mr Bezos has talked about his broader vision of enabling a future in which millions of people live and work in space.
Unveiling his moon landing plan, he spoke of the importance of future human colonisation of space and mentioned two important issues: reducing launch costs and using resources already in space.
He said: One of the most important things we know about the moon today is that there’s water there.
It’s in the form of ice. It’s in the permanently shadowed craters on the poles of the moon.
Mr Bezos’ vision is shared by other billionaire-backed private space ventures including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and aerospace incumbents such as United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin.
While Mr Bezos is angling to become a leading player in space exploration and win business from the US government, he has been the target of repeated criticism from President Donald Trump, who has referred to him as Jeff Bozo.
Mr Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which Mr Trump has frequently branded fake news.