May 17, 2019 - Science

Everything you need to know about Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos in front of Blue Origin's new lunar landing module Blue Moon

Jeff Bezos introduces Blue Moon. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is a private space company hoping to send paying customers to space in the very near future. Bezos has often stated the company's goal is to help bring about a future in which millions are living and working in space.

The latest: On May 9, Bezos revealed Blue Origin's new Blue Moon lander, which is designed to get payloads to the moon.

Key facts about Blue Origin:

  • Founder: Jeff Bezos
  • Founded: Sept. 8, 2000 in Kent, Washington (where it is currently headquartered)
    • It has a launch facility in West Texas and, since 2015, has leased Launch Complex 36 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
    • Blue Origin also has a $205 million, 750,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Merritt Island, Florida, with plans to develop an additional 90 acres at the Kennedy Space Center.
    • In 2015, the company announced it would be building a $200 million factory in Huntsville, Ala. per
  • Rockets: New Shepard (a suborbital rocket that could launch its first passengers this year) and New Glenn (an orbital rocket expected to launch in 2021)
    • Blue Origin also boasts the BE-3, BE-4 and BE-7 engines as part of its arsenal.
    • In looking to lower the cost of access to space, both New Shepard and New Glenn are vertical take off and vertical landing vehicles. Because these rockets can be reused multiple times, Blue Origin thinks it will help drive down the cost of launching payloads to space.
  • Funding: As of 2014, Bezos had invested at least half a billion dollars of his own money into Blue Origin. In 2017, Bezos said he was selling $1 billion in Amazon stock per year to finance the company, per the New York Times.
    • In October 2018, Bezos said he plans to spend "a little more" than $1 billion on Blue Origin in 2019.
  • Competition: Most notably, Tesla CEO Elon Musk's own private space company — SpaceX.
    • The two are competing, along with a number of other private space companies, to win contracts to carry cargo payloads to space.

Key rockets:

  • New Shepard: This is the rocket with which Blue Origin plans to begin sending people to suborbital space. The company successfully launched (and landed) the 11th uncrewed test of the launch system on May 2. It launches from West Texas.
    • A flight on the 60-foot-tall New Shepard is designed to bring space tourists at least 62 miles above Earth — the official line where space begins — and lasts 11 minutes. Passengers would be able to see Earth against the blackness of space and feel weightlessness.
    • Blue Origin has yet to announce how much a ticket aboard New Shepard will cost.
    • The rocket is named after Alan Shepard, the first American to go to space.
  • New Glenn: The company is also building the orbital New Glenn rocket, which is designed to bring large payloads to orbit. It will launch from Launch Complex 36 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.
    • Per the Orlando Business Journal, work on the 270-foot-tall rocket is creating 330 jobs with an average annual salary of $90,000.
    • Blue Origin plans to launch New Glenn for the first time in 2021.
    • The rocket is named after astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.

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