Jeff Bezos says his space company will send a woman to the Moon’s surface for the first time.
The Amazon billionaire announced his intention on Instagram, posting a video of an engine test at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
He wrote: “This (BE-7) is the engine that will take the first woman to the surface of the Moon.”
The engine has been developed by Mr Bezos’s space company, Blue Origin, and has had 1,245 seconds of test-fire time, he said.
It will power the company’s National Team Human Landing System lunar lander.
Blue Origin is competing with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Leidos-owned Dynetics to win a contract to build NASA’s next human lunar landing system to take humans – including the first woman – to the moon by 2024 as part of its Artemis programme.
Two of the three companies will be chosen in March to continue building their prototypes, although there are concerns about a lack of funding made available to NASA by Congress.
There is also uncertainty about where space exploration fits in the priorities of the incoming Joe Biden administration.
Blue Origin was founded by Mr Bezos in 2000 and aims to provide low-cost access to space.
The first woman to have flown in space was Russia’s Valentina Tereshkova, on the Vostok 6 in 1963
Jessica Meir and Christina Koch took part in the first all-female spacewalk in 2019.