Blue Origin wants to put a human pilot in its New Shepard spacecraft in 2017, founder Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday.
The private space company hosted a tour of their R&D facility in Seattle, showing the technology behind the New Shepard, which has launched to a test apogee of about 330,000 feet and landed twice. This was the first time the media was allowed behind the walls of the hush-hush private space company.
Bezos – also the founder of Amazon.com – did not reveal many details about Blue Origin’s plans for human test flights. He did say that thousands of prospective customers have lined up to be space tourists.
Those people won’t be riding on Blue Shepard – instead, other craft not yet revealed will be designed to test the feasibility of comfortable, monetized human spaceflight.
Blue Origin is also looking to get into the supply business; it will build the engine for the United Launch Alliance’s contribution for NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program, as well as working on other projects. Bezos told the press at the facility tour that he isn’t worried about Blue Origin having competition from other private space companies: there will be a lot of resources needed and a lot of room for different companies to grow as more and more work is done beyond Earth, he said.
Bezos plans to eventually bring Blue Origin to a stage where it can fly up to 100 suborbital flights per year.
Like competitors such as SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, the key for Blue Origin is to create a spacecraft that can reliably and regularly be reused. On Jan. 22 the New Shepard rocket descended from 333,582 feet to land on a launch pad. SpaceX has not yet landed a reusable rocket successfully on their floating barge, but it is aiming slightly higher (literally), putting satellites into orbit as part of the test.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense