Blue Origin Working To Develop Private, Manned Spaceflight
The billionaire founder
of Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos, has been very secretive about the
company's progress toward its stated goal of developing craft for
manned, commercial spaceflight. The company has worked behind
closed and locked doors and gates for years. Now, he's released
video showing the successful launch of Goddard -- what the company
is calling a first development vehicle in its New Shepard
According to information on the company's website, New Shepard
is to be a vertical take-off, vertical-landing vehicle designed to
take a small number of astronauts on a sub-orbital journey into
Quoting from the website, Bezos said, "We’re working,
patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so
that many people can afford to go and so that we humans can better
continue exploring the solar system. Accomplishing this mission
will take a long time, and we’re working on it
Goddard is a rather ungainly-looking vehicle. It's a featureless
white cone, squared-off at its base, sitting on four stilt-like
metal legs. The craft blasts off the launch pad in a cloud of smoke
and dust and ascends to almost 300 feet (according to the website)
before descending and alighting gently on the launch pad. The
entire flight lasts about 25 seconds.
While not particularly earth-shattering when viewed from the
eyes of one used to watching, say, a space-shuttle launch, if one
stops to think this is the work of a private company, not a world
superpower, it is an impressive display of technology.
As impressive as it is from that perspective, it's clear the
company still has a long way to go from a 25-second, 300-foot
flight, to launching a manned vehicle to sub-orbital space and
returning it safely.
If it seems progress at the company is slow, remember it took
NASA, with all the resources of a developed, industrialized nation
behind it, years to make a successful rocket launch -- and theirs
didn't touch down gently back on the launch pad in one piece!
To help it achieve its goal, the company has posted a notice on
its website that it's now actively recruiting aerospace engineers
with propulsion and turbomachinery experience.
Bezos is driven by a belief in taking small steps toward his
goal. Even the company motto, Gradatim Ferociter (Step by Step,
Fiercely), emblazoned on its logo -- complete with two turtles
-- reflects Bezos' mindset.
It looks as though at least one goal has been met!