Blue Origin still plans to launch people this year
New Shepard takes flight in December 2019. Photo: Blue Origin
Blue Origin is planning to launch another test flight of its suborbital New Shepard space system as early as this month, with human test flights expected before the end of the year.
The big picture: The Jeff Bezos-backed rocket company pumped the brakes on its test flight program last year but is now gearing up to launch its next round of flights ahead of its first tests with human passengers.
"[We'll have] about three to four more flights before we go fly people. So we're still on target for this year for doing that, but there's a lot of work to be done."— Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith to Axios
Context: Blue Origin sees its suborbital space business as key to the company.
- By testing its human spaceflight systems with New Shepard, Blue Origin plans to translate what it learns into the development of orbital vehicles, like the New Glenn rocket currently being built.
- The company also sees New Shepard as an important source of inspiration for the public as it works to make Bezos' dream of millions of people living and working in space a reality.
The big questions: Blue Origin has yet to announce a price for tickets, and it's not clear when New Shepard will enter commercial service.