By 2017 commercial space flights have become a reality. Now ahead is Ilon Mask with his SpaceX, however, and the "Tony Stark" of the real world has its competitors.
So, the founder and head of the Blue Origin project Jeff Bezos at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs said that he annually sells Of its Amazon shares worth $ 1 billion and invests the proceeds in its own space project. Unlike the Mask with its NASA contracts and the support of investors, the Bezos project largely exists for the money of the billionaire himself. At the same time, Bezos does not have to pester himself with the "money bags" in the hope of getting another round of investments: the billionaire's fortune is estimated at $ 72 billion (2017), so at current expenses Blue Origin will continue to develop while the businessman is alive or will not abandon this venture.
Jeff Bezos – the head and founder of one of the most successful online shopping sites of our time – Amazon. In fact, he is one of the richest people on the planet, yielding only Bill Gates with this record $ 90 billion and some businessmen from the real and financial sectors of the economy.
The Blue Origin project was launched in the distant 2000. In fact, Bezos became the first billionaire who turned his gaze toward the cosmos, not with the goal of launching commercial satellites, but with a desire to simplify and reduce the cost of flights, which would allow humanity to get closer to the stars. The original concept of Blue Origin meant commercial launches with the goal of space tourism at more adequate prices than NASA. In 2002 Ilon Mask joined the "club" Bezos, having founded SpaceX, and already in 2004 commercial businessman Richard Branson undertook commercial flights to space.
Unlike Mask, who chose the path of symbiosis with NASA, Bezos preferred to develop Blue Origin as far as his own strength and capabilities. At some point, the businessman acknowledged Mask's approach in terms of re-using the first stages of missiles efficiently and also began work in this direction.
"If we can significantly reduce the cost of flying to space, this will untie the hands of a lot of businessmen. You will see creation, you will see dynamics and creativity, you will see everything that I have witnessed on the Internet over the past 20 years, "said Bezos at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.
The main reason why Mask, And not Bezos, was always on hearing with his launches – these are real rocket launches. Ilona and SpaceX need to fulfill contracts with NASA and other orders, in order to stay afloat and continue their existence. Blue Origin under the wing of Bezos avoided this pressure, so engineers are working on the creation of rockets and make experimental launches without unnecessary noise.
In September 2016, Blue Origin formally presented to the public one of its developments – a two-stage missile New Glenn, which should To compete with "Falcon" SpaceX in the commercial delivery of goods.
However, New Glenn did not cross out the earlier Blue Origin project on space tourism called New Shepard. For example, in October 2016, engineers performed quite spectacular tests of the crew rescue system during the launch. The rocket projected a rescue system for the head capsule, in which the crew and passengers will be accommodated. After the artificial creation of an "emergency" situation at an altitude of about 5000 meters, the capsule's head part was shot off from the launch vehicle and accelerated away from it on a different trajectory.
It should be noted that unlike the returned stages of SpaceX, which began to fly again literally a few days ago, the New Shepard step, which took part in the simulation of the emergency situation with the shooting of the capsule, started at that time for the fifth time. According to Bezos, after the tests, the stage was sent to retirement, although in theory, after service, it could be used again.
At the same time, it is incorrect to compare Falcon 9 and New Shepard. Before the Mask rocket there are completely different tasks. Take at least the specific impulse required by the Falcon 9 payload to bring cargo into orbit, when as a Blue Origin tourist project it is limited to a 10-11 minute suborbital flight. New Shepard is equipped with six seats for tourists and according to Bezos the first flights can take place already in 2018.
According to the motto of the company – "Gradatim ferociter", that from Latin can be translated as "step by step, inevitable," Jeff Bezos adheres to tactics of measured, step-by-step expansion. According to the businessman, mass suborbital flights are the first step, the key to putting millions of people into orbit for life and work in space. Space tourism at an adequate price has several advantages in the eyes of Bezos. The main thing is getting invaluable experience in planting the first stage of New Shepard, which Blue Origin can later use on the New Glenn rocket. The final price of a ticket for a 10-minute suborbital flight is not yet known, but it is likely to be around $ 250,000 – it's for as much as Richard Branson was selling space on his troubled Virgin Galactic.
The motto of the company Bezos, however, does not prevent Blue Origin from redistributing its efforts. The unique experience of the launch and return of the New Shepard steps is good, but the development of the New Glenn booster in the coming years will require an estimated $ 2.5 billion. First of all, Jeff is a businessman, so his missile already has a commercial customer for delivery Cargo – telecommunications company Eutelsat, for which New Glenn will put into orbit satellites. This contract will allow to cover part of the costs for the development and construction of aircraft and accelerate the development of the industry. It is expected that the first commercial launch of New Glenn will take place two years after the launch of tourist launches New Shepard – in 2020.