Late last week, the official Blue Origin Twitter account tweeted a cryptic message that included an image of a sailing ship and a date, May 9. Keen-eyed followers quickly identified the ship as Endurance, the ship famously used by Ernest Shackleton in his bid to make the first crossing of the Antarctic more than a century ago.
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) April 26, 2019
Since releasing the tweet, many have speculated as to the possible meaning behind the cryptic announcement. Currently, the prevailing theory is that it will likely be regarding Blue Origin’s bid to return human beings to the moon and construct a permanent outpost. The inclusion of Shackleton’s ship is likely a reference to the Shackleton crater, an area located at the Moon’s south pole that is believed by many to have deposits of frozen water. This area of the moon has been identified as a prime location for a potential lunar base.
The likelihood that the announcement will be regarding a return to the moon was further strengthened by a Tweet from NASA Administration Jim Bridenstine.
“We’re sending the next man, and first woman, to the lunar South Pole by 2024,” tweeted Bridenstine. “To do that, we’re updating our call to American industry and broadening it to help us build and design an integrated human lunar lander system.”
It is as yet unclear whether the Blue Origin announcement will be an overview of their bid for NASA contract, or if the company plans to lead its own push to return human beings to the moon.