Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO of Amazon.com has quietly been bankrolling an entrenpeneurial private suborbital space enterprise called Blue Origin. Bezos, in a November 19 interview on the Charlie Rose show, touted Blue Origin’s progress:

Bezos noted that Blue Origin’s first development vehicle — the Goddard — has been flown to low-altitude several times from a company owned 200,000 acre launch complex in western Texas. To date, the tight-lipped Blue Origin group has only publicized the November 13, 2006 first flight of that craft.

“We are now working on a second development vehicle,” Bezos said. “There will be at least one more development vehicle after that…at least, I don’t know, maybe it’ll be more.”

Blue Origin is building a vertical takeoff/vertical landing spacecraft that will take three or more astronauts to the edge of space, Bezos said.

Dubbed the New Shepard program — paying homage to the 1961 suborbital flight of Mercury astronaut, Alan Shepard — Bezos said that Blue Origin’s effort is built on taking one step at a time. The company’s motto, he emphasized, is Gradatim Ferociter, “step by step, ferociously.”

“We’re not in any hurry…because we’re trying to build a very safe, well-engineered vehicle. [I] don’t see any reason to rush on this,” Bezos told Rose.

Bezos goes on to say that safety is the first priority and that there’s no preconceived test to check the space tourism market for profitability.

“I’m highly skeptical of such studies because you don’t really know until you do it,” Bezos explained. “But I do think this can be made into a viable business. You have to be very long-term oriented,” he said.

That’s an understatement. As of now, there are at least ten to twenty private companies trying for the space tourism market. I’m not sure if there’s enough millionaires to go around.

 Bezos further adds; “…people who complained about a seven year-long investment in Amazon, … would be horrified by Blue Origin.”

When asked if he would fly in his own ship, he replied; “I will go. I definitely will go. I can’t wait actually.”

The race to get a viable and reliable suborbital vehicle is on and who ever is the first one to do so, without having any casualties in the process, has a huge jump on everyone else. And when they do, big profits! After a while, the field will thin down to maybe four or five companies, like the airlines did. So many millionaires will have their one shot and get it out of their system. But I think the industry will develop into carrying bigshot business types all over the world in an hour or two, possibly eliminating old style airlines. Why take an 18 hour flight someplace when you can do it in two hours?

Of course cost is the big initial issue, but as the technology gets better and more people use it, the cost will go down.

This was a subplot Ben Bova used in his 1996 novel Moonrise. The story was mainly about nanotechnology on the Moon and a growing global conservatism (hmmm…). But the main characters, the dysfunctional Masterson family, made its’ fortune building and using the same type of vehicle Bezos’ company is engineering now to take anyone, anywhere on the Earth suborbitally in an hour or two.

Art preceeding life? It worked for Jules Verne. And sounds like it might be a business model after all!

LiveScience article

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5 responses

  1. I sure hope the VA will have gene therapy soon. I would like to live long enough to try this suborbital flight thing.

    Knowing my luck, if they did, the damn government will draft me back into the Marines and shoot my ass into space to get me to some bullshit hot-spot to upgrade old helicopters!

  2. Too much money is wasted on space related projects either government or privately sponsored. If Jeff Bezos wanted to do something useful he’d construct a 200,000 acre solar panel farm and feed the electricity into the grid. Hed make a buck and do something useful towards alleviating the generation of power via coal fired plants in this country. He’d also set an example as to what can be done via large scale solar energy farming.

    Yep, just what we need is more apes in space, human or otherwise…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. A friend of Jim’s he went to college with grew up somewhere at the top of Texas. I don’t remember the city but anyway, Jim’s friend and members of his friend’s family all say they’ve seen UFOs up there.

    I never thought of northern Texas as a UFO hotspot but, how do you argue with what people see with their own eyes?

    They’re lucky people, and I envy their experience.

  4. Carl: Aww c’mon, wouldn’t you like to try the canned primate experience, at least once? I sure would. I used to crew helicopters in the Marines, and those damn things are bricks with rotary wings. I’d try anything once just to say I did it! And yes, some firms are looking into the power business.

    http://www.sspi.gatech.edu/sunsat-how.pdf 😎

    Christopher: I don’t what it is about the southwestern US and UFOs, but there seems to be a pattern there. Interdimensional gateway possibly? Hmmmph…*scratching chin*

  5. Hi dad2059…

    Rest assured, I for one, am not against advancements in flight technology, but America is in deep trouble concerning energy production at an acceptable pricepoint. So when I make iconoclastic statements as aforementioned, it’s simply to for both shock effect and to hopefully act as a catalyst for thought. Bezos, Gates, Buffett, and a host of the worlds almost 700 billionaires could be something that’s not only profitable to their bottomline, but energy liberating for the peoples of the world.

    With global warming on the horizon, there will be no shortage of intense blue sky areas with more opening up as the decades go on. People talk of fusion power, hydrogen fuel cell power etc., but solar energy is doable and is here and now.

    Bezo’s space flight farm, 200,000 acres equates to 312.5 square miles in the sunshine belt. There’s 640 acres in a square mile. If only a little over 100 square miles were set up for solar power generation, along with AC-DC conversion to feed super-cooled DC transmission lines, 800 gigawatts plus could be produced very quietly and efficiently per day. With the use of DC transmission/conversion power could be store in mega-Joule capacitors for retransmission and conversion during the nighttime. 800 gigawatts represent the amount of power consumed by the “entire U.S.” on any given day, 24/7/365.

    Now Bezos has 312.5 square miles at his disposal. If our pols gave him equal and matching funds for this endeavor, the U.S. emissions crisis could be solved in short order and possibly forestall the global warming problem too.

    So rest assured my friend, that I’m not anti-flight, nor anti-technology, infact, I’m core saturated with technology and my love thereof!

    We’re just witnessing wealthy, village idiots engaged in self-aggrandizing questionable projects when there’s so much to be done on the ground concerning infrastructure etc.

    Here’s a link to bring folks up to speed concerning PV (photovoltaic power). http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/myths.html

    Carl Nemo **==

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