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Will the Public Finally Get a Peek at Blue Origin’s Work?

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My friend Clark Lindsey at Hobby Space found this update on Blue Origin’s work on creating a pusher escape system and composite vessel cabin. NASA funded the $3.7 million project in January as one of five grants given for commercial crew development (CCDEV).

The report indicates that the project is now more than 50 percent complete and directly generated 22.5 full-time jobs at Blue Origin. It indicates that “following completion of the CCDev activity, Blue Origin plans suborbital flight test at private expense.” The company also will conduct a drop test of the composite test cabin.

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An Update on Blue Origin

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Van Horn spaceport gets NASA backing
El Paso Times

The project’s most visible breakthrough came in 2006, when it vertically flew and landed an egg-shaped rocket it calls New Shepard.

Last month, Blue Origin was one of five commercial aerospace companies to receive federal money for rocket research. NASA awarded the company $3.7 million to work on an advanced technology, which detaches a crew cabin from its launcher if the shuttle malfunctions.

The link with NASA placed the company as a finalist in the suborbital space race. It gave more credibility to the project, which has been silent about most developments for about three years. Federal Aviation Administration officials said Blue Origin does not have an active experimental flight permit. But the company could be getting ready to launch three people into space in 2011 and 2012.

Until then, company executives said, they would not reveal any more information.

Read the full story.

Space Review Looks at NASA’s Plans, Blue Origin

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This week in The Space Review:

  • Jeff Foust looks at what is known about the mysterious Blue Origin space company.
  • John Mankins identifies what the critical technologies needed to enable cost-effective human exploration beyond Earth orbit.
  • Stephen Metschan argues for a third path for NASA to explore space that doesn’t involve completely scrapping the Constellation program.
  • Taylor Dinerman offers some advice from history on more effective ways for NASA to roll out new plans.
  • Dwayne Day begins a look at an effort thirty years ago by the Air Force to develop a small air-launched reusable vehicle.
  • Jeff Foust reviews a new play that focuses on how astronauts re-adjust to life on Earth after their spaceflights.

Blue Origin Gives First Public Presentation

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Gary Lai of Blue Origin gave the company’s first public presentation at the Next Generation Space Researchers Conference in Boulder yesterday. The secretive Kent, Wash.-based company – founded by Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos – is developing its New Shepard vehicle for suborbital missions.

Jeff Foust posted notes on the presentation via Twitter. The key points include:

  • Crew of 3 or more for flights of 325,000 feet with rapid turnaround;
  • Propulsion module and crew capsule designed to separate before landing;
  • New Shepard doesn’t necessarily look like earlier Goddard vehicle;
  • About 3 minutes of microgravity time on each flight.

NASA’s $50 Million Commercial Crew Investment to Fund Different Approaches

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Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser - a seven-person space shuttle designed for orbital flight.

Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser - a space shuttle designed for orbital flight and ISS servicing.

The $50 million in contract awards that NASA announced earlier this month will fund a number of approaches to commercial human spaceflight, including a new capsule and a small space shuttle. The space agency also spread out awards between newer, entrepreneurial companies and established aerospace giants.

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NASA Awards $50 Million to 5 Companies for Commercial Crew Work

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NASA PROGRAM UPDATE

NASA has awarded $50 million through funded agreements to further the commercial sector’s capability to support transport of crew to and from low Earth orbit. This step is the first taken by NASA consistent with the president’s direction to foster commercial human spaceflight capabilities.

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Blue Origin Moves Forward

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blue_originBezos’ space flight project Blue Origin shows signs of life
TechFlash

Blue Origin recently selected three scientific projects — from Purdue University, the University of Central Florida and Louisiana University — for future test flights, though it didn’t specify when the flights would take place. The company will likely respond to a Dec. 4 NASA request for suborbital space flight companies interested in working with the agency on research programs, said Alan Stern, a planetary scientist and former NASA official now consulting for Blue Origin.

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New Shepard Experiment to Study Fluid Behavior in Low Gravity

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blue_originBy Emil Venere
Purdue University News Service

Purdue University researchers are designing and building an experiment that will operate during a test flight of a new type of reusable rocket to be launched by aerospace company Blue Origin LLC.

The experiment will be used to study how fluids behave in low gravity, providing information that could help engineers design better components for a variety of technologies used both on the Earth and in space, said Steven Collicott, a professor in Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

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Blue Origin to Begin Flights in 2011-12

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blue_originSomething I didn’t see last week when looking at Blue Origin’s plans to begin flying experiments, although it is on the website:

Blue Origin expects the first opportunities for experiments requiring an accompanying researcher astronaut to be available in 2012. Flight opportunities in 2011 may be available for autonomous or remotely-controlled experiments on an uncrewed flight test.

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Blue Origin: Have Payloads, But When Will It Fly?

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blue_origin

My friend Clark Lindsey at Hobby Space found this notice on the Blue Origin page:

Blue Origin has selected three unmanned research payloads to fly on the New Shepard suborbital vehicle as a part of Phase 1 of the New Shepard Research Flight Demonstration Program. These payloads were selected from an excellent field of submitted proposals.

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