back to article No box shifting, no Buck Rogers. Bezos-backed Blue Origin blasts off once again

It has been a while but after a hiatus of more than seven months and a weather-induced delay, the rocket outfit bankrolled by billionaire box-flinger Jeff Bezos has sent its New Shepard booster into the blue. The flight, named NS-12, was a repeat of May's launch, sending the uncrewed capsule to an altitude of about 66 miles ( …

  1. ArrZarr Silver badge

    I'm honestly curious as to which of the big three (BFS, SLS and New Glenn) will win in the end.

    Blue Origin's pace feels glacial but that's also probably because they're flying under the radar the most. SpaceX (well, credit where credit is due - Musk) set insane target dates that are guaranteed to slip and SLS is stuck with the development hell of being an expensive NASA project.

    Personally I'm hoping that SpaceX come out top on this generation of rocket but that's because the Dragon engine is way too awesome to be wasted.

    Although having done some further reading, New Glenn is actually a Falcon heavy competitor by payload and reusability so what do I know?

    1. Red Ted

      Which will win?

      My understanding is that the the best result is that none of them win per-say. It's the act of having the competition between them that will drive them on in a way that NASA on it's own would never do.

  2. iron Silver badge

    I'm always amazed people talk about Bo as if they are a space company. As far as I can see they spend a lot of money and have achieved very little so far, only Virgin Galactic beat them for loudly trumpeting their own lack of achievement!

    1. Jon 37

      They're still building capability. You don't go from nothing straight to a reusable human-rated orbital space launch system. You get there in steps, proving each step before moving to the next.

      SpaceX started with many small expendable orbital rocket launches, and also briefly had a small reusable non-orbital platform for testing their landings. Their rockets gradually got bigger, then they introduced reusability - with many early failures. Now they have a reusable space launch system and are working on larger ones and human-rating.

      NASA's efforts started off as the Nazi Germany missile program, they gradually built bigger and bigger rockets, then bigger and bigger human-rated rockets, culminating in the Moon missions, and then built the semi-reusable human-rated shuttle. (Note: This was a long time ago, their idea of human-rated does not match our current definition, partly because we've learned from the accidents they had).

      Blue Origin are taking a different approach, which is probably cheaper. They started out with a small reusable rocket, and are gradually building larger and larger reusable rockets, with a goal of getting to orbit with their next one. They are also considering human-rating for their rockets. They haven't had as much funding as SpaceX, so their growth has been much slower.

      1. rg287 Silver badge

        I'm not sure your assessment of BO is entirely fair.

        They've started out with a small reusable rocket (their only one to date, granted they've built a few to a similar design) and are now jumping straight to the massive New Glenn (which remains a paper rocket). There's no "gradually building up".

        I would also contend that "having less funding than SpaceX" is a bit of a misnomer. Bezos pours a $1Bn into BO each year, which mostly goes on R&D. Musk was never able to offer that level of liquidity to SpaceX and when they have enjoyed large contracts from NASA and the DoD those have been launch contracts (with some development funding - tens-to-hundreds of millions. Not billions). BO have also enjoyed some income from Boeing who intend to use the BE-4 engine on their Atlas-replacement Vulcan rocket.

        BO have spent 20years trying to design the perfect rocket. SpaceX started out building a "good enough" rocket to capitalise on a global backlog of payloads and have used that commercial income to develop their non-NASA projects (like StarShip).

        Since BO are yet to reach orbit, it's hard to define their approach as cheaper. SpaceX made orbit for less than a billion dollars. BO are burning a billion a year and haven't even launched a demonstrator yet.

    2. rg287 Silver badge

      As far as I can see they spend a lot of money and have achieved very little so far

      The one place they are enjoying success is with the BE-4 engine which has been selected by Boeing for their new Vulcan rocket. So they have income for engine sales and aren't purely selling launches like SpaceX.

      However, it's hard to ignore the fact that BO are burning a billion dollars a year from Bezos (plus anything Boeing are punting their way for BE-4 dev) and have yet to reach orbit.

      SpaceX developed Falcon 1, sent it to orbit and then scaled and launched their first Falcon 9 for less than $1Bn. The original version of F9 was a "good enough" effort that got them in at the bottom of the market and was much less performant than the current Block 5.

      Presumably BO's theory was they could develop income with their sub-orbital fairground ride, but Musk is crashing launch prices so hard that - as Virgin Galactic are finding - this market is rapidly shrinking. The price difference for NASA to send experiments to actual space (instead of a few minutes of zero-g) is narrowing and anyone with that much money is wondering whether a Bigelow space hotel might actually be within sight.

  3. M E H
    WTF?

    Is it just me

    who thinks that rocket looks terribly phallic?

    1. Fatman Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Is it just me

      Perhaps they should license a smaller version of the design for personal use.

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

        Re: Is it just me

        Blue Orgasm?

    2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Is it just me

      Relax.

      It's not just you

    3. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me

      yeah, Blue Origin missed a potentially lucrative revenue stream selling side-of-the-rocket advertising space to Love Honey, etc.

      1. Louis Schreurs

        Re: Is it just me

        Well, for me it is a small step from Space Hub to Porn Hub, butt a giant step for mankind.

    4. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Is it just me

      We've had discussions on this before including references to how Bezo's birds look like the ones in Flesh Gordon.

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

        Re: "how Bezo's birds look like the ones in Flesh Gordon."

        In the immortal words of Dr. Flexi Jerkoff, "Some type of penisaurus, I believe."

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is it just me

      Every time I see it, I think the company needs renaming to Electric Blue Origin.

    6. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    7. Long John Brass Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Is it just me

      Form follows function.

      What shape would you suggest for a rocket?

    8. Danny Boyd

      Re: Is it just me

      Yeah, looks quite similar to that penisoid spaceship from "Austin Powers", albeit without rear spherical fuel tanks representing the testicles.

  4. TVU

    No box shifting, no Buck Rogers. Bezos-backed Blue Origin blasts off once again

    That Blue Origin rocket does indeed look like a p***k, i.e. like Bezos himself given Amazon's poor treatment of their warehouse and other workers.

    1. fishman

      Re: No box shifting, no Buck Rogers. Bezos-backed Blue Origin blasts off once again

      The warehouse workers are just a temporary thing - they'll be replaced with robots.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: No box shifting, no Buck Rogers. Bezos-backed Blue Origin blasts off once again

        The other workers will be for sale in the turks program shortly.

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