Blue Origin Aiming At Commercial Space Success

By  //  February 24, 2013

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Next Generation

(VIDEO: NASAKennedy)

BREVARD COUNTY • KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA – Following successful Space X missions to the International Space Station, yet another commercial space company is looking to build upon that milestone.

An artist’s illustration of the orbital crew-carrying Space Vehicle spacecraft in development by the Blue Origin company was included in the firm’s NASA Space Act agreement to continue its work on a commercial crew space vehicle. (Image courtesy of Blue Origin)

Blue Origin, a private a aerospace company founded by creator Jeff Bezos, completed a System Requirements Review of its new orbital Space Vehicle spacecraft last summer.

The company’s BE-3 rocket engine was conducted at a NASA test facility in October and it performed a full thrust of about 100,000 pounds-force.

In December, NASA revealed that Blue Origin had successfully completed the pad abort test of its in-house developed pusher escape motor. The test pushed the full-scale Space Vehicle capsule to an altitude of 2,307 feet under active thrust-vector control and brought it to a safe parachute landing more than 1,630 feet downrange.

All of this has accelerated Blue Origin’s plans to develop and test a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engine for the Reusable Booster System which will be used in a later phase to launch Space Vehicle into orbit.

Initial flights of the Space Vehicle will use Atlas V rockets and launched from a West Texas private facility owned by Bezos.

The company says it is developing vehicles and technologies to enable commercial human space transportation. Its long-term vision is to increase the number of people that fly into space through low-cost, highly reliable commercial space transportation, according to a press release by Blue Origin.

Space Vehicle was created by Blue Origin and designed to carry astronauts into low earth orbit and to the International Space Station by 2017.

NASA awarded Blue Origin $3.7 million in 2010 in the first phase of its Commercial Crew Development Program to build an innovative ‘pusher’ Launch Abort System  and composite pressure vehicles.

Using a “biconic” design for vertical launches and a horizontal reentry, Blue Origin created a capsule coupled with the re-entry advantages of a lifting body.

“The biconic shape improves on traditional designs, showing continued spaceflight innovation,” said Rob Meyerson, president and program manager of Blue Origin.

Landing area

This is intended to give astronauts a larger accessible landing area from any single re-entry point, allowing more frequent opportunities to conduct an emergency return from the ISS and land safely in the United States while lowering G-forces the astronauts experience upon re-entry.

“The biconic shape improves on traditional designs, showing continued spaceflight innovation,” said Rob Meyerson, president and program manager of Blue Origin. “Successful completion of the System Requirements Review paves the way to finalize our Space Vehicle design. Coupled with our reusable orbital launch vehicle, we are helping NASA meet its needs for sending astronauts safely and reliably to the ISS, while lowering the cost of human spaceflight and increasing the number of people who can fly into space.”

Jeff Bezos, the creator of, is the owner of the Blue Origin aerospace company. (Image courtesy Blue Origin)


A System Requirements Review in May gauged Space Vehicle’s ability to meet safety and mission requirements and evaluated its technical readiness of the design, inspected its the concept of operations and the feasibility of Blue Origin project development plans and its planned verification activities.

The review included results from recently completed wind tunnel tests of the Blue Origin biconic shape while validating Space Vehicle’s aerodynamic design, stability and cross-range.

Representatives from Blue Origin, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration participated in the review, which was conducted at Blue Origin’s design and development facility in Kent, Wash.

“Through a series of technical interchange meetings and data reviews, our work with NASA has allowed us to leverage the technology development and lessons learned from more than 50 years of human spaceflight,” Meyerson said. “We look forward to continuing development of our biconic Space Vehicle for both NASA and commercial purposes.”