After a 15-month hiatus, Blue Origin’s New Shepard is flying again. Have we buried Jeff Bezos’ pony too quickly in the race among private companies to make spaceflight profitable?
In the news : Successful launch of New Shepard, Blue Origin’s reusable launcher. The missile left the Corn Ranch site in Texas yesterday on its twenty-fourth consecutive flight. It then delivered 33 payloads, presumably small satellites, into orbit at an altitude of 107 kilometers. In addition to 38 thousand postcards from pupils and students around the world, collected by the Future Club Foundation, another initiative of a person named Jeff Bezos. Each postcard will be returned to its creator, stamped with the “Flown to Space” details. Air and universe.
First trip in 15 months
- This might seem like a routine task for another large private company with space ambitions. But this is Blue Origin’s first sealed flight in 15 long months.
- The Bezos program had been suspended since September 2022. Fortunately, a drone flight crashed after a nozzle malfunction, destroying one of the precious ships. The NS-23 capsule, which contained a scientific payload, was forced to make an emergency landing.
- Since then, there has been radio silence from the company that was presented as one of Tesla’s rare competitors. And we’ve seen the difference: For a year and a half, Elon Musk’s company was the only company operating commercial spaceflight, and the media attention that comes with it. In the absence of competition, it’s just as much free advertising.
A competitor to SpaceX
So Blue Origin is still in the running. But the fund is behind schedule. Last March, it was still hoping to resume manned flights this year. It’s highly implausible, to say the least.
- As a reminder, Jeff Bezos dreamed of being a pioneer in the field of space tourism. He himself has launched into near orbit, and the waiting list of wealthy people who want to fly in his wake is also enormous. A ticket to orbit is estimated at $28 million.
- As for the showdown with competitors – primarily SpaceX but also Virgin – it’s not all that bad. Jeff Bezos’ private space company will be responsible for launching NASA’s mission to study the magnetic field around Mars next year, which is the mission Stay away (Escape, Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers).
- It was a gentle disdain for Elon Musk at first, but above all, it was a dedication to the New Glenn heavy bomber. This will be its first partially reusable flight. Despite the lower payload, this will be the first private vehicle capable of competing with SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket.
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