The company founded by Jeff Bezos made history last year when it succeeded to land and reuse several times its New Sheperd rocket. Now it plans to launch its first crewed test flights for its suborbital spacecraft within a year according to Erika Wagner, business development manager.
“Safety is the primary goal for Blue Origin”, she says. Thus, there will be no hurry and she adds “We’re really taking that to the next level and proving out a rocket before we ever put our first human on board”. Engineering teams will have to fully master their system performance before testing it with a human space flight. Blue Origin motto “gradatim, ferociter” which stands for “step by step, ferociously”, illustrates this wish to progress steadily while keeping control.
Wagner explains that “We don’t believe in qualifying a [specified] number of flights, we believe in qualifying performance. We really believe that safety comes from how well you understand a system”.
In fact, Blue Origin engineers are now also working on the heavy-lifter New Glenn, an orbital vehicle that is schedule to fly around 2020 and that will enable missions to the Moon and Mars.
Rocket reusability is also something that is being mastered by Space X, Elon Musk’s company, which achieved to land the first stage of several Falcon 9 rockets. For now, no one has been reused yet but Space X plans to relaunch one of these boosters in the coming months. Despite this increasing competition between Space X and Blue Origin to become the first private company to send humans in outer space, people safety remains the top priority. Erika Wagner explains that Blue Origin is looking at NASA’s human spaceflight integration standards as a guide which sets health requirements for pre-flight, flight and post-flight phases of such a journey.
Let us be a bit more patient, but let us be ready to witness the first reusable crewed space flights very soon. Step by step, ferociously.