Jeff Bezos’ private spaceflight company Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed its New Shepard vehicle on its latest mission, NS-14, with hopes that human flights can begin soon.
The mission launched today, Thursday, January 14 at 12.17 P.M. Eastern Time from the company’s Launch Site One in West Texas. The mission saw the company’s 18-meter-tall rocket launch a capsule to the boundary of space, one that’s designed to eventually carry humans at a cost of $200,000 or so per ticket.
About Blue Origin, LLC
They are an American privately fundedaerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company headquartered in Kent, Washington. Founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the company is led by CEO Bob Smith and aims to make access to space cheaper and more reliable through reusable launch vehicles.
Blue Origin is employing an incremental approach from suborbital to orbital flight, with each developmental step building on its prior work. The company motto is Gradatim Ferociter, Latin for “Step by Step, Ferociously”.
Blue Origin is developing a variety of technologies, with a focus on rocket-powered vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL) vehicles for access to suborbital and orbitalspace. The company’s name refers to the blue planet, Earth, as the point of origin.
Initially focused on suborbital spaceflight, the company has designed, built and flown multiple testbeds of its New Shepard vehicle at its facilities in Culberson County, Texas. Developmental test flights of the New Shepard, named after the first American in space Alan Shepard, began in April 2015, and flight testing is ongoing. Blue Origin has moved the date for first passengers back several times, with one recent planned timeframe being 2019 as of September 2018. In the event, it has not yet begun commercial passenger flights, nor announced a firm date for when they would begin. On nearly every one of the test flights since 2015, the uncrewed vehicle has reached a test altitude of more than 100 kilometers (330,000 ft) and achieved a top speed of more than Mach 3 (3,675 km/h), reaching space above the Karman line, with both the space capsule and its rocket booster successfully soft landing.
Blue Origin moved into the orbital spaceflight technology business in 2014, initially as a rocket engine supplier for others via a contractual agreement to build a new large rocket engine, the BE-4, for major US launch system operator United Launch Alliance (ULA). By 2015, Blue Origin had announced plans to also manufacture and fly its own orbital launch vehicle, known as the New Glenn, from the Florida Space Coast. BE-4 had been expected to complete engine qualification testing by late 2018, but the test program continued into 2019.
In May 2019, Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Origin’s vision for space and also plans for a moon lander known as “Blue Moon“, set to be ready by 2024. On 30 April 2020, Blue Origin’s National Team, which includes Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, was awarded $579 million to develop an integrated human landing system as part of NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the Moon.
Source; Forbes, Wikipedia