What is Blue Origin?
While Blue Origin does have to catch up with SpaceX in terms of major milestones for their respective teams, experts largely believe that Blue Origin can and will have a more competitive edge in the coming years. One reason is that many experts say that at the end of the day, Blue Origin’s dream is more realistic than that of SpaceX, with moon colonies simply being more achievable within a relatively short period of time, requiring less effort. Further, with Bezos backing the company, it’s unlikely that funding will be an issue any time soon.
It is hard to deny that the 21st century is shaping up to be the century when we finally take space travel to the next level. With talks of bringing humans back onto the surface of the moon, and transporting civilians back and forth to Mars, it’s clear that major plans are underway to make space travel more accessible, affordable and safe than ever before.
A large reason why space travel is seeing a resurgence in public interest is because of privately owned companies that are popping up with exceptionally thrilling technology. One of these privately owned companies is Blue Origin, who has certainly shaken things up in its short time in the industry.
The Bezos Connection
Blue Origin is a privately owned space travel business founded by Jeff Bezos, the founder, and CEO of Amazon. Based out of Washington State, Blue Origin, the company is currently run by CEO Bob Smith. Like other space-based companies, Blue Origin has a few simple enough sounding goals: to make space travel more affordable, to make it more accessible to non-space personnel, and to cross new territories and milestones in space travel as a whole.
Although Blue Origin was founded back in 2000, it has only come to public prominence in recent years, and that’s because of its recent developments that have made the company notable. Unlike NASA, a Government agency that receives direct funding, Blue Origin relies on investments in order to complete its missions.
Blue Origin and NASA
Blue Origin has collaborated with NASA on numerous occasions. The earliest one of note was in 2009, when Blue Origin was given funding by NASA to develop an advanced program to come up with safer ground activities for astronauts, including a pusher escape system and a pressure vessel cabin that weighs less than the average, while promoting safety for its occupants.
Two years later, NASA contributed $22 million to Blue Origin as part of the CCDev Phase 2 Program, which is involved in transportation to and from the International Space Station (ISS). During this participation, Blue Origin was able to test their orbital Space Vehicle with its innovative bionic design which led to easier reentry into the planet’s atmosphere.
Blue Origin vs. SpaceX
It should not come as a surprise to anyone that Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX have viewed one another as direct competitors. Things got particularly ugly when NASA decided to lease the Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, as it wasn’t being used. NASA award SpaceX after receiving a bid, and as a result, Blue Origin filed an official complaint to NASA believing that the selection process was flawed. After the first complaint was all but ignored, Blue Origin sent a second complaint which finally removed SpaceX from their position as winner.
Blue Origin’s Current Projects and Priorities
Presently, Blue Origin has the goal of launching a lander that shares a lot in common with that responsible for the original Apollo moon landings decades ago, with, of course, a far more advanced technological interface and a larger size. It’s clear that there is a race to bring astronauts back to the moon, and Blue Origin, like any ambitious company, wants to beat its competitors to the punch. Blue Origin has yet to have a successful orbit, but the company believes that it has the best team of scientists and engineers to handle the task at hand.
Blue Origin’s accomplishments are simply nothing compared to those of SpaceX, so the general feeling is that the latter company has a lot of catching up to do. Despite the general lack of major achievements thus far, its CEO wholeheartedly believes that the company’s team will be able to see its goals all the way through. Musk’s company famously wants to put humans on Mars, while Blue Origin’s primary goal is to create a sustainable, livable base on Mars complete with colonies for regular people.
These “floating colonies” require efficient transportation, and so currently, the company is developing rockets that are cost-effective, safe and comfortable. This vision reportedly comes directly from Bezos’ childhood imagination, as he claims to have been fascinated with space and, particularly, lunar travel since he was a young boy.