May 17, 2019

Everything you need to know about Blue Origin

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 AL.com.
  • 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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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy