Blue Origin New Shepard Fact Sheet

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the New Shepard suborbital program.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

New Shepard

Named after Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space, New Shepard is Blue Origin’s fully reusable suborbital launch vehicle designed to take astronauts and research payloads past the Kármán line (100km), the internationally recognized boundary of space, then return them safely to Earth.

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Blue Moon Program Fact Sheet

Blue Moon crewed landing vehicle. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s advanced development programs and Blue Moon lunar lander.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

Advanced Development Programs

Blue Origin is developing advanced technologies to enable space exploration and development, including a NASA Tipping Point contract to mature cryogenic liquid propulsion for integrated large-scale lunar lander applications and several years of progress on the Blue Moon Lunar Lander and its BE-7 lunar landing engine.

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Blue Origin Fact Sheet on New Glenn, Engine Development

New Glenn is a reusable, vertical-landing booster with 3.85 million pounds of thrust, (Credit: Blue Origin)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin released a fact sheet about its programs when it opened its new Huntsville manufacturing facility on Monday. Below is an excerpt on the company’s New Glenn rocket and its BE-3, BE-4 and BE-7 engine development program.

BLUE ORIGIN FACT SHEET

New Glenn

Named after John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit Earth, New Glenn is a single configuration, heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle capable of carrying people and payloads routinely to low Earth orbit, geostationary transfer orbit, cislunar and beyond. Its first stage is fully reusable and built for 25 missions initially.

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Blue Origin Opens Huntsville Manufacturing Facility

Ribbon cutting ceremony at Blue Origin’s production facility in Huntsville, Ala. (Credit: Blue Origin)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., February 17, 2020 (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin opened its rocket engine production facility in Huntsville, AL. The world-class engine manufacturing facility in The Rocket City will conduct high rate production of the BE-4 and BE-3U engines. These engines will undergo testing at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center on the historic Test Stand 4670. BE-7, our lunar landing engine, is also currently in test at NASA Marshall.

“At the core of every successful launch vehicle program are the engines that power those vehicles to space. Early on in Blue Origin’s history, we made a crucial decision to invest in developing the next generation of reusable rocket engines. And now, it’s an exciting time for Blue, our partners and this country –we are on the path to deliver on our promise to end the reliance on Russian made engines – and it’s all happening right here, right now, in the great state of Alabama. We couldn’t be prouder to call this our home for engine production,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin.

Blue will add more than 300 jobs to the local economy with an investment of over $200 million in the facility.

Here is a video of the BE-4 engine progress.

Bezos Sells More Amazon Shares

Jeff Bezos

CNBC reports that Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has sold more shares in his Amazon company.

The series of sales began on Jan. 31, the filings show, and continued through Feb. 3, and were executed under a pre-arranged trading plan. In total, Bezos sold 905,456 shares in the company for $1.84 billion, according to the filings.

Bezos has said he will sell Amazon shares to help fund his Blue Origin space company. He made similar sales of stock in 2017 and 2019.

The sales became publicly known as Amazon’s market capitalization topped $1 trillion.

Bezos Names First Head of Communications for Blue Origin

Mills served as vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes Communications from February 2018 until January 2020. Previous to that, she served as Starbucks’ vice president for global communications for six years.

I would see the hiring of Mills as a sign that Blue Origin is going to ramp up its media operations. Jeff Bezos doesn’t hire someone of that stature to continue the company’s low-level activities.

Blue Origins President Bob Smith said last year the company would fly New Shepard with people after conducting two more automated flights. The first of those launches took place in December. So there could be a major ramp up in that area.

Blue Origin also has a lot of other things on its plate. The company is:

  • developing the New Glenn rocket for orbital missions;
  • building a new engine for ULA’s Vulcan booster;
  • bidding on a major U.S. Air Force launch contract;
  • competing to build NASA’s human lunar lander for the Artemis program;
  • bidding on NASA’s CLPS task orders to deliver payloads to the moon; and,
  • developing a rival to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband constellation.

Whatever the outcome of these efforts, the company needs an experience public relations professional to navigate the sometimes turbulent media seas.

A Case for Durational Research: Space Plants Co-Investigators Robert Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul

Robert Ferl_and Anna-Lisa Paul (Credit: NASA)

NASA Flight Opportunities Program Q&A

University of Florida-Gainesville co-investigators Robert Ferl and Anna-Lisa Paul are no strangers to suborbital research. They’ve been conducting plant research in microgravity since the late 1990s—first on the Space Shuttle and then on the International Space Station (ISS) and parabolic flights, many of which have been facilitated by Flight Opportunities.

More recently, the pair have begun flying their “space plants” (Arabidopsis thaliana) on rockets, including Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard. We spoke with Ferl and Paul about how they have approached their long-duration research to lead to successful, iterative investigations on multiple flights. 

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AFRL, Blue Origin Partner on Test Site for BE-7 Lunar Lander Engine Development

The Altitude facility at Edwards Air Force Base, California, does tactical scale research on next generation rocket motor and engine components, propellant formulations, and subsystems; and high vacuum research on satellite components, subsystems, and systems. Research testing includes solid rocket motor testing at simulated altitudes up to 120,000 feet. The complex has been used for space simulation to validate thrust vector control systems, baseline a standard for solid rocket motor propellants, research extendible nozzle cones, and systems, and research space qualified ignition systems. (Credit: Blue Origin)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory and Blue Origin are developing a new test facility for the Blue Origin BE-7 lunar lander engine at the AFRL rocket lab here.

Capital improvements, funded by Blue Origin, will allow BE-7 testing in a simulated space-like environment. Planned work includes adding liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOX) propellant capabilities, along with other facility upgrades.

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2019: A Busy Year in Suborbital Flight

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Last year was a busy one for suborbital flights as Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic conducted a combined four flights of their crewed suborbital vehicles. Despite hopes to the contrary, neither company flew paying tourists on their spaceships.

There were also 26 sounding rocket launches that carried scientific experiments and technology payloads above the atmosphere. The year saw:

  • Japanese startup Interstellar Technologies conduct a successful launch of its Momo commercial sounding rocket;
  • Texas-based Exos Aerospace continue to struggle with its reusable SARGE booster; and,
  • the first suborbital launch ever achieved by college students.
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AIAA, Blue Origin Partner to Launch Experiments Designed by High School Students into Space

Blue Origin’s New Shepard reusable, suborbital rocket. (Credits: Blue Origin)

January 9, 2020 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Blue Origin have partnered to create Design/Build/Launch (DBL), a new competition designed to launch experimental payloads to study the effects of short-duration microgravity.

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Blue Origin Opens New Headquarters in Kent, Washington

KENT, Wa. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin opened our new headquarters and R&D facility in Kent, Washington. The facility is Blue Origin’s hub of operations as we continue to grow our team. Below are excerpts from remarks given by Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith at today’s ribbon cutting event. 

“2019 was a great year of progress and preparation for us, and 2020 is going to be even more remarkable – so we’re growing quickly. We grew by a third last year and we’re going to continue to grow at a rapid pace.  

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SpaceX Designing Service Tower for Pad 39A

Falcon Heavy on the launch pad. (Credit: SpaceX)

Spaceflight Now reports that SpaceX is completing plans for a mobile service tower so the company can integrate U.S. military satellites onto its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters while they are in a vertical position on Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The tower will surround Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets at pad 39A, shielding the vehicles from storms and high winds and providing a controlled environment for ground crews to hoist heavy satellites and mount them on top of the launch vehicles in a vertical configuration.

SpaceX currently installs satellites, already cocooned inside their payload shrouds, onto Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets horizontally inside hangars near the company’s launch pads. But some of thee U.S. government’s most sensitive intelligence-gathering satellites, some of which come with billion-dollar or higher price tags, are designed to be mounted on their launch vehicles vertically.

SpaceX officials said the vertical integration capability is required for participants in the National Security Space Launch Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement. The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center — now part of the U.S. Space Force — released a request for proposals for the Phase 2 Launch Service Procurement last May.

The military plans to select two companies later this year to launch the Pentagon’s most critical satellite missions from 2022 through 2026. The military’s incumbent National Security Space Launch providers — United Launch Alliance and SpaceX — are competing for the lucrative contracts with newcomers Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin for the Phase 2 contracts.

Original Firefly Shareholders Sue Firefly’s Markusic, Polyakov Alleging Fraud

Tom Markusic

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A group of original shareholders in the defunct Firefly Space Systems have accused co-founder and CEO Tom Markusic of fraudulently conspiring with Ukrainian billionaire Maxym Polyakov to force the rocket company into bankruptcy in 2017 and reconstitute it under a nearly identical name without giving them any stake in the new venture.

Markusic “betrayed the trust of his original co-founders and investors and committed fraud to cut them out of his aerospace company. Instead of managing the operations of the Original Firefly, a revolutionary rocket company with endless potential, Markusic schemed with…Maxym Polyakov…to rob Plaintiffs of their investments and form a new company called Firefly Aerospace, Inc. (the ‘New Firefly’),” the plaintiffs said in a lawsuit.

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