Blue Origin, LLC, based in Kent, Washington, is a privately funded aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services provider. It was founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, founder and executive chairman of Amazon. Bezos has been a space enthusiast since an early age. Bezos, on an interview for his high school after being named valedictorian, said “I want to develop space hotels, entertainment parks, and colonies for 2 million or 3 million people who would be in orbit,”
The company’s CEO is Bob Smith and has the goal to make access to space cheaper and more reliable through reusable launchers. Fun fact, the name of the company refers to the blue planet, Earth, as the point of origin.
After seeing the rocketry biographical film “October Sky” in 1999, Bezos and science-fiction novelist Neal Stephenson explored launching a space corporation. The company has been fairly secretive about its objectives from the start, and it was only after 2015 that it broke its “self-imposed silence”. Around 250 people were employed in July 2013. By May 2015, the company had grown to about 400 workers, with 350 working in Kent on engineering, manufacturing, and business operations, and about 50 in Texas supporting the engine-test and suborbital test-flight facility. In 2016, the company began to grow at a faster rate. The company had around 1000 employees by April 2017. In August 2018, the company had more than 1500 employees, more than double the amount in early 2016, and they predicted that by the time New Glenn is flying, that number will have doubled again. By July 2014, Bezos had put over $500 million into Blue Origin out of his own pocket. Blue Origin spent $1 billion per year in 2016, with Jeff Bezos’ Amazon stock sales providing the funding. Bezos stated publicly in both 2017 and 2018 that he plans to fund Blue Origin with $1 billion per year through Amazon stock sales.
20 of July 2021, Jeff Bezos reached space. As the sun rose above a private spaceport in rural West Texas that morning, a six-story-tall rocket fired up its engines and lifted off, carrying a spaceship with four people on board—the first passengers to fly on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. The crew capsule split from the booster at around 250,000 feet and continued to the edge of the atmosphere, while the rocket plummeted back to Earth and completed a controlled vertical landing. The crew members unbuckled their seatbelts and floated in weightlessness for a few minutes as the capsule soared, screaming enthusiastically as they took in the scenery out the windows. The capsule began to fall at 351,210 feet, not quite in orbit but well above the 62-mile line that marks the widely accepted border of space. Parachutes helped it safely land on Earth about ten minutes after launch. By spaceflight standards, the trip had a motley crew. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin and the world’s richest man, was one of the passengers. Mark, his brother, accompanied him on the first flight. On the flight was also Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aviator who has dreamed of being an astronaut since the early days of NASA’s human spaceflight program—when she trained to be an astronaut and outperformed the seven men chosen for the Mercury program on many of the tests, but did not get a chance to go to space because of the fact that she is a woman. Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutchman who is now the youngest person to enter space, completes the crew. For a few fleeting minutes, Daemen’s father paid an undisclosed sum for his son to feel weightlessness, glimpse the darker sky, and look at Earth’s bent horizon. Blue Origin is also developing the New Glenn rocket, named after the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth, John Glenn. Blue Origin announced a revised timeline for the first launch of New Glenn in early 2021. New Glenn was originally scheduled to launch in 2020, but the corporation revealed in March 2021 that it would not be ready until the fourth quarter of 2022, at the earliest.
If you would like to see more on Blue Origin’s first human flight click here.