Blue Origin is a privately funded aerospace company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, the man who made his billions – that’s billions, not millions – proving to the world that e-commerce was a viable business model. The secretive company has since 2000 been working on a suborbital crew capsule, conducting tests under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).
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 orbital space. The company’s aim is to launch a spacecraft called New Shepard (named after Alan Shepard, the first American to fly in space in 1961), a biconic design that can hold at least three astronauts, using a reusable first stage rocket to limit operating costs.
The company motto is Gradatim Ferociter, Latin for “Step-by-Step, Ferociously”. Not to be confused with Richard Dreyfuss’ “Baby Steps” in What About Bob? Besides all that, Bezos also seems to have developed a liking towards the Apollo program, as his privately funded expedition recently recovered two F1 engines from the bottom of the sea – you can read all about it here. Nice! We’re looking forward to the day where he decides to breathe some new life in the Zissou Society.
Back on topic, Blue Origin makes use of its own spaceport located about 25 miles north of Van Horn, Texas as well as NASA’s test facilities where they in October 2012 tested part of their new rocket engine. NASA In the meantime is hoping its CCP funding will pay off by 2017, because currently it is depending on the Russian Soyuz for supplying the International Space Station. It seems the burden of exploring space is shifting more and more from NASA, ESA and the like to private sector companies – let’s all look forward to the adventures that are bound to unfold in the coming decade – Blue Origin is definitely making steps in the right direction to be a part of it all.