Saturday, February 27, 2010

Blue Origin: Another Company Building Spaceships

"Veil Lifts Slightly on Secretive Blue Origin Rocket Project" (February 26, 2010)

"For all the shake, rattle and roll that a rocket emits on takeoff, the secretive private rocket firm Blue Origin is still keeping quiet even as new details are emerging regarding its new vertical launch and landing rocket.

"Bankrolled by the super-wealthy Jeff Bezos, founder of, Blue Origin has been busy fabricating its New Shepard rocket. The spacecraft has been shrouded in secrecy since work began, but Blue Origin officials lifted the veil slightly in recent weeks.

"New Shepard is being built to eventually haul a crew of three or more astronauts to the suborbital heights, explained Gary Lai, the group's engineer/manager responsible for crew cabin development...."

"...Taking all of two and a half minutes to accelerate, the vehicle trajectory coasts the craft to the edge of space after shutting off its engines. In doing so, "high-quality" microgravity is promised in durations of three minutes or more.

"New Shepard would depart from Blue Origin's already operational private spaceport in west Texas.

" 'The trajectory is nearly vertical . . . straight up, straight down,' Lai told the audience. 'We will reenter vertically and restart the engines and do a powered landing on the propulsion module.'..."

(from Blue Origin, via, used w/o permission)

Photos of the Goddard demonstration vehicle look a lot like the McDonnell Douglas Delta Clipper, only wider. Lai said that the production version of the Blue Origin spacecraft wouldn't necessarily look like the Goddard - so we still don't know all that much about where they're going. Apart from "up."

I've written before, that we're looking at a new sort of 'space program' now, at least here in America. For example, Blue Origin and four other commercial spaceflight outfits are getting a piece of $50,000,000 that's part of NASA's efforts to support commercial spaceflight development.

I think it makes sense. Most major countries these days are as interested in being able to travel in space without hitching a ride, as they are in having their own surface and air transportation systems. Letting interested and competent companies develop spaceships - and bankrolling some of the development costs - is, I think, a good idea.

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