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Blue Origin

A DARPA rendering of the planned XS-1, launching its second-stage rocket

It takes a lot more money and preparation to launch a rocket than to have a plane take off. That's why DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) first initiated its Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. The idea is that once built, the XS-1 could take off and land like a regular aircraft, but could also deliver satellite payloads into low-Earth orbit while airborne. Today, the agency announced its plans for Phase 1 of the program, which includes awarding contracts for designs of the autonomous spaceplane.  Read More

Test firing of the BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine that took place on Nov. 20, 2013 (Ph...

NASA announced on Tuesday that Blue Origin had successfully test fired its new BE-3 hydrogen/oxygen rocket engine at the company’s West Texas facility in Van Horn. The test, which took place on November 20, was a series of static firings to simulate the engine sequence of an actual suborbital flight from lift off to landing and is part of the development of Blue Origin’s manned Orbital Launch Vehicle for carrying passengers and cargo into low Earth orbit.  Read More

Blue Origin's New Shepard crew capsule shoots free of the launch vehicle simulator

Aerospace firm Blue Origin has already conducted wind tunnel and engine tests, in the development of its reusable orbital Space Vehicle. Last week, however, the company took a step forward in the development of its New Shepard suborbital system – at its West Texas launch site, the company conducted a successful pad escape test, in which a full-scale crew capsule was ejected from a launch vehicle simulator.  Read More

The test firing of the BE-3 engine (Photo: NASA)

Another commercial spaceflight venture has taken a step forward. Early this month, aerospace firm Blue Origin successful test fired its 100,000 lb (444,840 N) thrust BE-3 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engine thrust chamber. The full-power static fire test took place at the E-1 test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center near Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi and is part of Blue Origin’s program to develop a launch system for its manned Space Vehicle.  Read More

A depiction of Blue Origin's Space Vehicle

When it comes to spacecraft that may take the place of the now-defunct space shuttle, it would probably be fair to say that most people probably think of the SpaceX Dragon. It’s sometimes easy to forget, however, that SpaceX is a private company, competing against others for NASA’s business. One of those competitors is Washington state-based Blue Origin, established by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos (SpaceX was co-founded by Elon Musk, of PayPal fame). Although the company has been rather secretive about the space vehicle that it’s developing, it recently announced that the design has done well in a series of wind tunnel tests.  Read More

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