Blue Origin’s New Shepard Wins Prestigious Collier Trophy

BE-3 restarted at 3,635 feet above ground level and ramped fast for a successful landing. (Credit: Blue Origin)

WASHINGTON, DC (NAA PR) — The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced last evening at their Spring Awards Dinner that the Blue Origin New Shepard has been named as the recipient of the 2016 Robert J. Collier Trophy “… for successfully demonstrating rocket booster reusability with the New Shepard human spaceflight vehicle through five successful test flights of a single booster and engine, all of which performed powered vertical landings on Earth.”

The Collier Trophy is awarded annually “…for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.” The list of Collier recipients represents a timeline of air and space achievements, marking major events in the history of flight.

“Blue Origin’s New Shepard program is remarkable,” said Jim Albaugh, Chairman of NAA. “Developing the first new large liquid hydrogen rocket engine in almost 20 years and demonstrating repeatable vertical takeoffs and landings makes the long sought after goal of low cost reusable rockets and access to space a reality. NAA salutes the New Shepard team for their accomplishments.”

“Winning the Collier Trophy is incredibly emotional for me and the whole Blue Origin team,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder of Blue Origin. “Everyone on the team has given so much to get to this point, and we are deeply encouraged by this recognition. We will never stop working to drive down the cost of getting to space.”

The Collier Trophy will be formally presented at the Annual Robert J. Collier Trophy Dinner on a date and location to be determined. For more information or to view a complete list of previous recipients of the Collier Trophy, please visit

The National Aeronautic Association is a non-profit, membership organization devoted to fostering America’s aerospace leadership and promoting public understanding of the importance of aviation and space flight to the United States.

  • AdmBenson

    Blue Origin is going to be successful in spite of some congressional efforts to head them off at the pass. The worst thing for ULA’s Vulcan would be if they were forced to use the AR1 engine and cut out Bezos. It would be game on at that point. Even with BO supplying the engines, Vulcan is a halfhearted stab at re-usability. It uses up to 6 solid strap-ons, and is only partially recovered after launch. BO could counter this with a smaller version of New Glenn with 3 BE-4’s on the 1st stage and 1 BE-3 on the second. It would have the payload performance of a fully-loaded Vulcan, plus a fully reusable 1st stage. At that point, it might even be competitive with F9.

  • jimmycrackcorn


  • duheagle

    Reusability of the 1st stage of your hypothetical BO rocket would be more difficult than for New Glenn. New Glenn’s 1st stage will have seven engines allowing landing to be done with only the center one burning and throttled way down. The whole stage may mass enough to avoid the “hoverslam” maneuver SpaceX uses to get its Falcon 9 1st stages back.

    A 1st stage with only 3 BE-4’s would be less massive by at least the mass of four BE-4’s, making hoverslam almost certainly mandatory even at minimal throttle setting on a single engine.

    But the only way a landing could employ a single engine out of three is if the engines were in a straight line across the booster stage’s base.

    Vector Space Systems plans to use such a layout for their 3-engine Vector-R 1st stage. Vector’s more capable Vector-H vehicle uses the same diameter tankage as Vector-R, but puts two additional engines at the base in the two cardinal points not occupied by engines on the Vector-R.

    So your 3-engine BO rocket would have to be, pretty much, a New Glenn with four of its seven engines removed. I don’t see the point in building such a thing. Neither, I strongly suspect, will BO.

  • publiusr

    “The whole stage may mass enough to avoid the “hoverslam” maneuver SpaceX uses to get its Falcon 9 1st stages back.”

    The wider lower section should mean its landing legs won’t have to be as long.