Blue Origin Probably Won’t Fly This Year

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The Commercial Space Race Between Blue Origin, SpaceX, and Others is Turning into More of a Hurtle Event Than a 5K.

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ space company, which started in 2001, hoped to send a manned craft beyond the wild blue yonder this year. According to Bob Smith, Blue Origin’s CEO, however, that’s looking less and less likely. Smith spoke at the Disrupt SF 2019 conference on Wednesday about New Shepard, the Blue Origin spacecraft designed to ferry people into sub-orbital space. Blue Origin had hoped for a manned-flight by the end of the year. But when asked, Smith replied, “Is it likely? Probably not, because 2019 is rapidly coming to a close,”

If you’d like to see Smith’s conversation at the conference, you can watch it here. It’s roughly 20 minutes of good conversation about Blue Origin’s plans, and it starts around 14:30 minutes into the eight-hour live stream.

If you just wanna watch a short video with some cool Blue Origin stuff in it, try this one:

The Thing About Human Space Flight

Blue Origin is not alone in not meeting its ambitious and publicly stated deadlines for development. That’s because when it comes to humans aboard gigantic bombs meant to them into space, safety is sort of a thing. Blue Origin still needs to carry out at least two more unmanned test flights to prove New Sheppard is ready for humans. Even if both of those tests go perfectly, however, a manned flight before the end of December seems highly unlikely. 

These days most of the “big boys” when it comes to the commercial space flight industry are setting their sights on early 2020 for their first crewed tests. SpaceX is long overdue with Crew Dragon, the capsule it promised to NASA for trips to the ISS. And though Elon Musk announced this week that the capsule should be ready to fly in “three or four months,” NASA’s not so confident. Administrator Jim Bridenstine said as much on Twitter before Musk’s big Starship announcement.

Crew Dragon suffered quite a few setbacks this summer in unmanned tests and had needed major design changes since then. Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic have all faced similar woes. It’s a reality of space flight that things will go wrong. That said, here’s hoping that 2020 is the year that we see Americans returning to the ISS on American (or at least not Russian) rockets, and that Virgin, Boeing, and Blue Origin have great success as well.

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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