One of the solutions explained in Juggernaut is to create new frontiers, and the most sensible place for a new frontier is space–the final frontier as it might be known. Of course, building a space ship and having the government get to the moon does not make a new frontier. A frontier is only viable in the minds of us here if the thought of migrating freely and expanding civilization to the frontier is feasible to the average man. Thanks to Amazon’s Jeff Bazos, we are seeing the potential for such a feasible new frontier. His project is called Blue Origin, and, as it is designed to be “reliable, cost-effective human access to space”, it might be the enterprise that truly opens space as a new viable frontier.
(Blue Origin) Blue Origin, LLC is developing technologies to enable human access to space at dramatically lower cost and increased reliability. This is a long-term effort, which we’re pursuing incrementally, step by step. We’re currently focused on developing reusable launch vehicles utilizing rocket-powered Vertical Take-off and Vertical Landing (VTVL) technology.
Our New Shepard system will take astronauts to space on suborbital journeys. The New Shepard vehicle includes a Crew Capsule carrying three or more astronauts atop a separate rocket-powered Propulsion Module, launched from our West Texas Launch Site.
Following liftoff, the combined vehicles accelerate for approximately two and a half minutes. The Propulsion Module then shuts off its rocket engines and separates from the Crew Capsule. The Propulsion Module will finish its flight, descend to Earth, and autonomously perform a rocket-powered vertical landing.
The Crew Capsule will go on to coast to the edge of space, providing astronauts with a view to the curvature of the Earth and the beauty of our planet. After descent and reentry into Earth’s atmosphere, the Crew Capsule will land under parachutes near the launch site.
In addition, the New Shepard vehicle will provide opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into space and a microgravity environment.
In the future, our orbital program will use some of the same reusable launch vehicle technologies we pioneer in our suborbital program.
Conventional first stage booster rockets are expendable. This conventional approach has two major drawbacks. The lack of flight testing prior to first use makes reliability a challenge. The fact that each mammoth vehicle is thrown away after a single use contributes to the staggering cost of spaceflight.
Blue Origin is developing a reusable first-stage booster. It will take off vertically like a conventional booster rocket and lift the upper stages to a conventional suborbital staging point, where the upper stage will separate and continue to propel the astronauts to orbit. Once separated, the first stage booster will descend to perform a powered vertical landing similar to the New Shepard Propulsion Module. Then the orbital booster can be refueled and launched again, allowing improved reliability and lowering the cost of human access to space.
The booster rocket will loft a biconic Space Vehicle to orbit, carrying astronauts and supplies for adventure, science research, and exploration. After orbiting the Earth, the Space Vehicle will reenter Earth’s atmosphere to land on land under parachutes, and then be reused on future missions to Earth orbit.
The technical challenges of escaping Earth’s gravity well and reaching orbit have never been trivial, and are compounded when higher reliability and lower cost are required. We are working patiently, step by step, to reach these long-term goals.