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Blue Origin prepares for next government hurdle

Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame is moving his spaceship company, Blue Origin, forward through the high hurdles race called government regulations.

The Blue Origin craft is slated to fly regularly by 2010. While this is indeed an aggressive schedule, I find it more reasonable now that I know a bit about the spaceship. It is the next step in development of the McDonnell-Douglas DCX. The test article for this was built and flown at White Sands for under $60M in under two years by Dr. Gaubatz and his team in the early to mid nineties. Takeoffs required a ground crew of less than a dozen people and they were perhaps the first to ever fly a Vertical Takeoff/Vertical Landing craft or “A spacehip like God and Robert Hienlein intended”, as one pundit put it, multiple times in a day. They also proved DCX could carry out a safe emergency landing after a major problem on takeoff and proved out the flight software for the complex flipover maneuver to rotate from pointy end first flight to ass end first for landing.

For those interested in such things, the McDonnell-Douglas master control console inside the single control van on site was… an Apple computer.

I am now wondering if Blue Origin will show up at Las Cruces this fall to compete for the NASA moon lander technology challenge prize I wrote of a few months ago. The beauty of a VTVL spacehsip is it works anywhere, whereas spaceplanes are rather limited in their choice of landing worlds. I know Dr. Gaubatz is going to be there and if they do, I am sure he will shed a tear of grandfatherly pride.

Hot Jets and Good Luck to Blue Origin!

15 comments to Blue Origin prepares for next government hurdle

  • Instafaggot

    Yes. How dare the government require laws to be followed. Isn’t there a little something called safety and security at stake here?

    It would behoove you to examine your “government regulations” fetish more critically.

  • Dale Amon

    I have. I see nothing in the government requirements that liability insurance wouldn’t handle just as well.

  • Dale Amon

    Of course one could also note some people have such a huge state-control fetish that they will not even consider the possibility that there are other, better and more effective ways to positive outcomes.

  • Nick M

    Perhaps the US Government should regulate against NASA wasting huge quantities of cash:

    NASA ‘s big spend

  • 1) Blue Origins launch site is in West Ass End Of Nowhere, Texas, thus the “risk” posed to human beings other than those willingly subjecting themselves to proximity to a flying bomb, is neigh on negligible.

    However, it is clear from the reading of BO’s environmental impact statement that the government weenies are really only interested in protecting tumbleweeds, creosote, coyotes, rattlesnakes, gila monsters, scorpions, horny toads, and various species of cactus, absolutely none of which are endangered or threatened in any way, whatsoever. They are also concerned about fuel spills leaking into groundwater or otherwise spilling onto cattle grazing areas…

    Of course, we wouldn’t have known that there are no endangered species in the area if the environmental impact statement had not been done….

    2) as for the New Shepherd vehicle, it appears the prototypes are actually of the DC-X size, not the larger DC-Y model which was never built in the original test program, though it seems BO is intent on building the DC-Y at some point, once they’ve established business operations and reliable rocket flight services.

  • I would very surprised if Blue Origin show up at Las Cruces. They don’t seem interested in publicity at all and we only what we know about their launcher because the environmental assessment demanded details.

    I like the approach, makes a change from some of the ‘all talk no action’ Walter Mitty types in the private space business. Like Bigelow, Bezos will taslk when he has something solid to talk about.

  • Dale Amon

    Yeah, but the prize money could be as much as $1.2M. That’s a useful offset if you can win it. Sure Bezos has money. But you don’t get money by ignoring opportunities unless they really are counter to plans.

  • The only danger in this project is that people will question NASA’s monopoly on space travel.

  • Dale,

    I suspect that a mere (!) $1.2m won’t be enough to encourage the likes of Blue Origin to compete unless the competition timescale ties in very neatly with existing development plans.

    Pity, I’m going to Las Cruces and it’d be nice to see them there.

  • Everyone is locked on to VTOL, but that’s not the real breakthrough here. The thing that is completely new is the idea of selling tickets to ride in an unpiloted vehicle of any sort.

    There has never, ever, been a flying vehicle carrying humans that didn’t have a pilot with at least some control of the craft onboard.

    The big thing about this vehicle isn’t that is VTOL, it is that will be the first ever passenger rated UAV.

  • The pundit in question is Jerry Pournelle.

  • Dale Amon

    Well, Dr Pournelle’s connection goes back to the Citizens Advisory Council in the eighties. He and a few others, including Gen. Danny Graham were behnd the scenes pushing for getting things like this funded. I would not be surprised if he has very good inside contacts and very good scuttlebutt.

  • Dale Amon

    btw, the original DCX wreck is up on cinder blocks in the back yard of a friend of mine in Huntsville. Over drinks he claimed to be the first space red-neck :-)

  • Barnes

    I happen to live and work in the ass end of nowhere and feel that Bezos, though never talks about anything, seems to think we are ignorant in this end of the universe. In small, ass end of nowhere towns, we see everything…like the 15, 25 year old oak trees that he reportedly spent $500,000 on to be trucked in from Houston to the ranch close to the launch site and the truck loads of dirt (go figure) that he trucked in to plant the trees in… and the city water he had trucked in the dark from our town to his ranch to fill up his swimming pool (we live in a drought stricken area with major water problems). So yes, we notice his waste, his total lack of concern for our environmental problems, and no we don’t have gila monsters here, but we do have a good sense of humor when wealthy board men from Seattle, build launch sites in a area that has major wind problems most of the year…go figure…we figure he built here in the ass end of nowhere so no one would really know what he is doing and no one would be able to monitor his actions. He has bought up a lot of local ranches so that no one can spy on him…in case he doesn’t have a clue…here is one from the ass end of nowhere…there is not a plethora of spies, plotting to spy on him out here…we all have better things to do, like try to figure out how to conserve our water…We hope he enjoys his pool on the ranch that will be filled with blowing dirt 95% of the year out here.

  • Dale Amon

    So what if he has a good mudwrestling pool? I am most interested in how well his testing program is going and I wish him a world of luck and good fortune in his efforts.

    Vaya Con Dios Blue Origin!