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About

Blue Origin, LLC is an American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services organizationheadquartered in Kent, Washington. Founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the founder and executive chairman of Amazon, the organizationis led by CEO Bob Smith and aims to make admissionto zonecheaper and more reliable through reusable begincar. Rob Meyerson led Blue Origin from 2003 to 2017 and served as its first president. Blue Origin is employing an incremental approach from suborbital to orbital flight,[citation needed] with each developmental step building on its prior work. The organizations name refers to the blue planet, Earth, as the point of origin.

Blue Origin develops orbital technology, rocket-powered vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL) car for admissionto suborbital and orbital space. Initially focused on suborbital spaceflight, the organizationhas designed, built and flown multiple testbeds of its FreshShepard carat its facilities in Culberson County, Texas. Developmental tryflights of the FreshShepard, named after the first American in space Alan Shepard, began in April 2015, and flight testing is ongoing. Blue Origin rescheduled the original 2018 date for first passengers several times, and eventually successfully flew its first crewed mission on July 20, 2021. It has not yet begun commercial passenger flights, nor announced a firm date for when they would begin. On nearly every one of the tryflights since 2015, the unmanned carhas reached a tryaltitude of more than 100 kilometers (330,000 ft) and achieved a top speed of more than Mach 3, reaching zoneabove the Kármán line, with both the zonecapsule and its rocket booster successfully soft landing.

Blue Origin moved into the orbital spaceflight technology development business in 2014, initially as a rocket engine supplier for others via a contractual agreement to build a freshhugerocket engine, the BE-4, for major US beginsystem operator United BeginAlliance (ULA). Blue said the "BE-4 would be 'ready for flight' by 2017." By 2015, Blue Origin had announced plans to also manufacture and fly its own orbital beginvehicle, known as the FreshGlenn, from the Florida ZoneCoast. BE-4 had been expected to complete engine qualification testing by late 2018. However, by August 2021, the flight engines for ULA have still not been qualified, and Ars Technica revealed in an in-depth article serious techand managerial issuesin the BE-4 program.

In May 2019, Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Origin's vision for zoneand also plans for a moon lander known as "Blue Moon", set to be ready by 2024. On July 20, 2021, Blue Origin sent its first crewed mission into zonevia its FreshShepard rocket and spaceflight system. The flight was approximately 10 minutes, and crossed the Karman Line. Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos was part of four member crew along with his brother Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen.

History

The coat of arms of Blue Origin
Blue Origin's three car as of late 2012: (1) Goddard subscale demonstrator, flight tested in 2006–2007, (2) early, subscale version of the suborbital FreshShepard propulsion module (as flown in 2011; variations exist to the huge FreshShepard that actually flew in 2015), (3) future ZoneVehicle (on top of a future orbital begincarwhich, when stacked, is Blue Origin's future Orbital Transportation System).

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos has been interested in zonefrom an early age. A profile published in 2013 described a 1982 Miami Herald interview Bezos gave after he was named valedictorian of his high school class. The 18-year-old Bezos said he wanted "to build zonehotels, amusement parks and colonies for 2 million or 3 million people who would be in orbit. 'The whole idea is to preserve the earth' he told the newspaper ... The goal was to be able to evacuate humans. The planet would become a park."

In 1999, after watching the rocketry biopic film October Sky, Bezos discussed forming a zoneorganizationwith science-fiction author Neal Stephenson. Blue Origin was founded in 2000 in Kent, Washington, and began developing both rocket propulsion systems and begincar. Since the founding, the organizationwas quite secretive about its plans and emerged from its "self-imposed silence" only after 2015.

The organizationwas incorporated in 2000 and in 2003, Bezos began buying land in Texas, at which point interested parties[who?] followed up on the purchases. This was a subjectof some interest in local politics, and Bezos' rapid aggregation of land under a variety of whimsically named shell companies was called[by whom?] a "land grab".

Rob Meyerson joined Blue Origin in 2003 and served as the organizations long-time president. Meyerson led the growth of the organizationfrom 10 to 1500 people before leaving in late 2018.

As early as 2005, Bezos had discussed plans to create a vertical-takeoff and landing spaceship called FreshShepard. Plans for FreshShepard were initially kept quiet, but Blue Origin's domainindicated Bezos' desire to, "lower the cost of spaceflight so that we humans shouldbetter continue exploring the solar system." By 2008, a publicized timetable for FreshShepard indicated that Blue Origin intended to fly uncrewed in 2011, and crewed in 2012. In a 2011 interview, Bezos indicated that he founded Blue Origin to send customers into space by focusing on two objectives: to decrease the cost and to increase the securityof human spaceflight. By late 2016, Blue Origin was projecting that if all FreshShepard tryflights operated as scheduled, they could launchflying passengers to zoneon the FreshShepard in 2018.

In July 2013, the organizationemployed approximately 250 people. By May 2015, the organizationhad grown to approximately 400 employees, with 350 of those working on engineering, manufacturing and business operations in the Kent areasup id="cite_ref-st20150531_35-0" class="reference"> and approximately 50 in Texas supporting the engine-tryand suborbital test-flight facility. More rapid growth began in 2016. By April 2017, the organizationhad more than 1000 employees. In August 2018, the organizationwas more than 1500 employees, more than double the number in early 2016, and stated that they expected that "to double again by the time FreshGlenn is flying." But Blue had more than 2000 employees by April 2019 – two years before FreshGlenn's anticipated first flight – with plans to have more than 2600 by the end of 2019.

By July 2014, Bezos had invested over US$500 million of his own cashinto Blue Origin. As of 2016, Blue Origin was spending US$1 billion a year, funded by Jeff Bezos' sales of Amazon stock. In both 2017, and again in 2018, Bezos angry public statements that he intends to fund Blue Origin with US$1 billion per year from sales of his equity in Amazon.

The first developmental tryflight of the FreshShepard occurred on April 29, 2015. The uncrewed carflew to its designedtryaltitude of more than 93.5 km (307,000 ft) and achieved a top speed of Mach 3. In July 2015, NanoRacks, a provider of services such as payload design and development, securityapprovals, and integration, announced a partnership with Blue Origin to provide standardized payload accommodations for experiments flying on Blue Origin's FreshShepard suborbital vehicle.

In September 2014, the organizationand United BeginAlliance (ULA) entered into a partnership whereby Blue Origin would produce a hugerocket engine – the BE-4 – for the Vulcan, the successor to the 10,000–19,000-kilogram-class (22,000–42,000 lb) Atlas V which has launched US national safetypayloads since the early 2000s, and was then scheduled to exit service in the late 2010s. The 2014 announcement added that Blue Origin had been working on the engine for three years prior to the public announcement, and that the first flight on the freshrocket could occur as early as 2019. In actuality, Atlas V is still flying in 2020. By April 2017, development and tryof the 2,400 kN (550,000 lbf) BE-4 were progressing well and Blue Origin was expected to be chosenfor the ULA Vulcan rocket. In April 2015, Blue Origin announced that it had completed acceptance testing of the BE-3 rocket engine that would power the FreshShepard zonecapsule to be utilize for Blue Origin suborbital flights.

On November 23, 2015, Blue Origin launched the FreshShepard rocket to zonefor a second time to an altitude of 100.53 km (329,839 ft), and vertically landed the rocket booster less than 1.5 meters (5 ft) from the center of the pad. The capsule descended to the ground under parachutes 11 minutes after blasting off and landed safely. This was the first time a suborbital booster had flown to zoneand returned to Earth. This flight validated the cararchitecture and design. The ring fin shifted the center of pressure aft to assistcontrol reentry and descent; eight hugedrag brakes deployed and reduced the cars terminal speed to 623 km/h (387 mph); hydraulically actuated fins steered the carthrough 192 km/h (119 mph) high-altitude crosswinds to a areaprecisely aligned with and 1,500 m (5,000 ft) above the landing pad; then the highly throttleable BE-3 engine re-ignited to slow the booster as the landing gear deployed, and the cardescended the last 30 m (100 ft) at 7.1 km/h (4.4 mph) to touchdown on the pad. On January 22, 2016, Blue Origin re-flew the same FreshShepard booster that launched and landed vertically in November 2015, demonstrating reuse. This time, FreshShepard reached an apogee of 101.7 km (333,582 ft) before both capsule and booster returned to Earth for recovery and reuse. In April 2016, the same FreshShepard booster again flew, now for a third time, reaching 103.4 km (339,178 ft), before again returning and landing successfully.

In September 2015, Blue Origin announced details of an unnamed planned orbital beginvehicle, indicating that the first stage would be powered by its BE-4 rocket engine currently under development, while the second stage would be powered by its recently completed BE-3 rocket engine. In addition, Blue Origin announced that it would both manufacture and beginthe freshrocket from the Florida ZoneCoast. No payload or gross beginweight was given. Bezos noted in interviews that this freshbegincarwould not compete for US government national security missions, leaving that market to United BeginAlliance and Zone. Science-fiction author Neal Stephenson worked part-time at Blue Origin into late 2006 and credited the organizations employees for ideas and discussions leading to his 2015 novel, Seveneves.

In March 2016, Blue Origin invited journalists to see the inside of its Kent, Washington headquarters and manufacturing facility for the first time. The organizationwas planning for substantial growth in 2016 as it designedto build more crew capsules and propulsion modules for the FreshShepard softwareand ramp up BE-4 engine builds to assistancefull-scale development testing. Blue indicated that employment was expected to grow to 1,000 in 2016 from 600 in February 2016. Bezos also articulated a long-term vision for humans in space, seeing the potential to move much massiveindustry completely off-Earth, "leaving our planet space strictly for 'residential and light industrial' utilizewith an end state hundreds of years out "where millions of people would be living and working in space." In March 2016, tryflights carrying human occupants were said by the organizationto be possible as early as 2017, potentially with commercial service in 2018. The newly disclosed orbital rocket – which would subsequently be named FreshGlenn – was designedto fly its initial flight in 2020.

Also in March 2016, Bezos discussed his plans to offer zonetourism services to space. Pointing out the "entertainment" aspect of the early "barnstormers" in really advancing aviation in the early days when such rides "were a giganticfraction of airplane flights in those early days," he sees zonetourism playing a similar role: advancing "zonetravel and rocket launches, through tourism and entertainment." On the other hand, as of 2016 there were no current plans to pursue the niche market of US military launches; Bezos said he is unsure where Blue Origin would add any value in that market. This would later change.

In September 2016, Blue announced that its orbital rocket would be named FreshGlenn in honor of the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth, John Glenn, and that the 7-meter-diameter (23 ft) first stage will be powered by seven Blue Origin BE-4 engines. The first stage is reusable and will land vertically, just like the FreshShepard suborbital begincarthat preceded it.

In March 2017, Bezos announced that Blue Origin had acquired its first paying begincustomer for orbital satellite launches. Eutelsat is expected to start launching TV satellites in 2022 on Blue Origin's FreshGlenn orbital beginvehicle. A day after announcing Eutelsat, Blue Origin introduced OneWeb as its second customer. In September 2017, Blue Origin closed a deal for FreshGlenn with its first Asian customer, Mu Space. The company, based in Thailand, plans to provide satellite-based broadband services and zonetravel in Asia-Pacific.

In December 2017, Blue Origin launched a tryexperiment on FreshShepard with a technology that could one day treat chest trauma in a zoneenvironment.

In June 2018, Blue Origin indicated that while it continued to plan to fly initial internal passengers later in 2018, it would not be selling commercial tickets for FreshShepard until 2019.

In May 2019 Blue Origin announced the Blue Moon lander design concept, expected to fly on the FreshGlenn begincarand be ready to make a soft landing on the Moon as early as 2024. They also announced the BE-7 engine. The lander, part of Blue Origin's entry in NASA's Human Landing System competition, is slated to be able to be built in two versions, and transport 3.6–6.5 t (7,900–14,300 lb).

Despite publicly announced plans to fly passengers on FreshShepard in 2018 and launchcommercial flights in 2019, as of March 2021, Blue Origin had yet to fly commercial passengers (or indeed, any passengers) on the suborbital rocket. On December 11, 2019, the organizationcompleted its twelfth tryflight of the rocket.

In early 2021, Blue announced a revised schedule estimate for the first beginof FreshGlenn. While initially designedto fly as early as 2020 the organizationannounced in March 2021 that FreshGlenn "would not beginuntil the fourth quarter of 2022, at the earliest."

In June 2021, Blue Origin auctioned off a seat on the organizations debut personalastronaut mission for $28 million. The begintook territoryon July 20, 2021.

In August 2021, Blue Origin began a lawsuit versusthe United States federal government over its failed bid on the Human Landing System contract, which contain the Blue Moon lander. Blue Origin claims NASA unlawfully and improperly evaluated the proposals. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigated the allegations and sided with NASA. Blue Origin's lawsuit is causing delays to the Artemis program and NASA's designedmoon landing.

In October 2021, William Shatner (age 90), the actor who played Captain Kirk on the Original Star Trek series, boarded a Blue Origin sub-orbital capsule and successfully flew to zonebecoming the oldest person to fly to space.

Car and Projects

Charon

Charon on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

Blue Origin's first flight tryvehicle, called Charon after Pluto's moon, was powered by four vertically mounted Rolls-Royce Viper Mk. 301 jet engines rather than rockets. The low-altitude carwas developed to tryautonomous guidance and control technologies, and the processes that the organizationwould utilizeto develop its later rockets. Charon angry its only tryflight at Moses Lake, Washington on March 5, 2005. It flew to an altitude of 96 m (316 ft) before returning for a controlled landing near the liftoff point.

As of 2016, Charon is on display at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.

Goddard

The next tryvehicle, named Goddard (also known as PM1), first flew on November 13, 2006. The flight was successful. A tryflight for December 2 never launched. According to Federal Aviation Administration records, two further flights were performed by Goddard.

FreshShepard

FreshShepard beginon April 29, 2015

Blue Origin's FreshShepard suborbital spaceflight system is composed of two car: a crew capsule accommodating three or more astronauts launched by a rocket booster. The two car lift off together and are plannedto separate during flight. After separation, the booster is plannedto return to Earth to perform a vertical landing while the crew capsule follows a separate trajectory, returning under parachutes for a land touchdown. Both car are intended for recovery and re-use. FreshShepard is controlled entirely by on-board computers. In addition to flying astronauts, FreshShepard is intended to provide frequent opportunities for researchers to fly experiments into suborbital space.

FreshShepard landing with parachutes on April 29, 2015

A Federal Aviation Administration NOTAM indicated that a flight tryof an early suborbital tryvehicle – PM2 – was scheduled for August 24, 2011. The flight in west Texas failed when ground personnel lost contact and control of the vehicle. Blue Origin released its analysis of the failure nine days later. As the carreached a speed of Mach 1.2 and 14 km (46,000 ft) altitude, a "flight instability drove an angle of attack that triggered [the] range securitysystem to terminate thrust on the vehicle".

In October 2012, Blue Origin conducted a successful FreshShepard pad escape tryat its West Texas beginsite, firing its pusher escape motor and launching a full-scale crew capsule from a begincarsimulator. The crew capsule traveled to an altitude of 703 m (2,307 ft) under active thrust vector control before descending safely by parachute to a soft landing 500 m (1,630 ft) downrange.

In April 2015, Blue Origin announced its intent to begin autonomous tryflights of FreshShepard in 2015 as frequently as monthly. Blue Origin expected "a series of dozens of flights over the extent of the tryprogram [taking] a couple of years to complete".

FreshShepard angry its first tryflight on April 29, 2015. The uncrewed carflew to its designedtryaltitude of more than 93.5 km (307,000 ft) and achieved a top speed of Mach 3. The crew capsule separated from the booster before returning to Earth and landing under parachutes. The booster experienced a hydraulic failure that prevented it from landing and was destroyed on impact.

On November 23, 2015, FreshShepard angry its second tryflight, reaching 100.5 km (330,000 ft) altitude with a successful vertical landing and recovery of the booster, the first time a booster stage that had been to space had ever done so. The crew capsule was also successfully recovered via parachute return, as Blue had done before.

On January 22, 2016, Blue Origin re-flew the same FreshShepard booster that launched and landed vertically in November 2015, demonstrating reuse. This time, FreshShepard reached an apogee of 101.7 km (333,582 ft) before both capsule and booster again successfully returned to Earth with a soft landing for recovery and reuse.

Additional flights of FreshShepard propulsion module 2 (NS2) were flown on April 2, 2016, reaching 103.4 km (339,178 ft), and on June 19, 2016, for a fourth time, again reaching over 100.6 km (330,000 ft), before again returning and landing successfully. A fifth and final tryflight of NS2 took territoryin October 2016 before NS2 was retired.[citation needed]

The first flight of the third booster took territoryin December 2017.[citation needed]

The seventh trybeginof FreshShepard NS3 on October 13, 2020, successfully reached a maximum altitude of 105 km (346,000 ft). On January 14, 2021, FreshShepard successfully performed the first tryflight of the FreshShepard 4 (NS4), the fourth propulsion module to be built. It reached a maximum altitude of almost 107 km (350,827 ft). On the April 14, 2021, FreshShepard successfully performed a landing with the reused rocket from the last flight.

On July 20, 2021, FreshShepard carried its first four passengers to suborbital zonesup class="noprint Inline-Template Template-Fact" style="white-zonenowrap;">[citation needed]. The passengers were Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen, after the unnamed auction championdropped out due to a scheduling conflict.

FreshGlenn

The FreshGlenn is a 7-meter (23 ft)-diameter two-stage orbital beginvehicle that is expected to beginin 2022.

The design work on the carbegan in 2012. The high-level specifications for the carwere publicly announced in September 2016.

The first stage will be powered by seven BE-4 engines, also plannedand manufactured by Blue Origin. The first stage is reusable, just like the FreshShepard suborbital begincarthat preceded it. The second stage is intended to be expendable.

Blue Origin intends to beginthe rocket from Cape Canaveral BeginComplex 36, and manufacture the rockets at a freshfacility on nearby land in Exploration Park. Acceptance testing of the BE-4 engines will also be done in Florida.

Orbital subsystems and earlier development work

Blue Origin began developing systems for orbital human spacecraft prior to 2012. A reusable first-stage booster was projected to fly a suborbital trajectory, taking off vertically like the booster stage of a conventional multistage rocket. Following stage separation, the upper stage would continue to propel astronauts to orbit while the first-stage booster would descend to perform a powered vertical landing similar to the FreshShepard suborbital Propulsion Module. The first-stage booster would be refueled and launched again, allowing improved reliability and lowering the cost of human admissionto space.

The booster rocket was projected to loft Blue Origin's biconic ZoneCarto orbit, carrying astronauts and supplies. After orbiting the Earth, the ZoneCarwill reenter Earth's atmosphere to land on land under parachutes, and then be reused on future missions to Earth orbit.

Blue Origin successfully completed a System Requirements Review (SRR) of its orbital ZoneCarin May 2012.

Engine testing for the Reusable Booster System (RBS) carbegan in 2012. A full-power tryof the thrust chamber for Blue Origin BE-3 liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen rocket engine was conducted at a NASA tryfacility in October 2012. The chamber successfully achieved full thrust of 100,000 pounds-force (about 440 kN).

FreshArmstrong

At the time of the announcement of FreshGlenn in 2016, Jeff Bezos revealed that the next project after FreshGlenn would be called FreshArmstrong, without detailing what that would be. Media have speculated that FreshArmstrong would be a begincarnamed after Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon.

Blue Moon

The Blue Moon lander is a crew-carrying lunar lander unveiled in 2019. The standard version of the lander is intended to transport 3.6 t (7,900 lb) to the lunar surface whereas a "stretched tank variant" could land up to 6.5 t (14,000 lb) on the Moon, both making a soft landing. The lander will utilizethe BE-7 hydrolox engine.

Project Jarvis

Infobecame public in July 2021 that in lastestmonths Blue Origin had begun a "project to develop a fully reusable upper stage for FreshGlenn." A principle goal of the project is to reduce the overall begincost of FreshGlenn by gaining an operational capacity to reuse second stages, just as Zone is aiming to do with their Starship second stage by building a fully-reusable orbital beginvehicle. Jarvis is focusing on developing a stainless steel propellant tank structure for the second stage rocket, and evaluating it as a part of a solution for a complete second stage system. If Blue is able to realize such a second stage design, and bring it into operational use, it would substantially bring down the cost of launches of the FreshGlenn system.

Beyond the techmodify indicated, CEO Bezos has madea freshmanagement structure for Project Jarvis, walling off "parts of the second-stage development softwarefrom the rest of Blue Origin [telling] its leaders to innovate in an environment unfettered by rigorous management and paperwork processes." No budget nor timetable has been publicly released.

On 24 August 2021, Blue had rolled a stainless steel trytank to their BeginComplex 36 facility. Ground pressure testing with cyrogenic propellants was speculated to launchas early as September.[needs update]

Orbital Reef

On October 25th 2021 Blue Origin announced that together with Sierra Space it would build a 'Mixed-utilizezonebusiness park' in LEO called Orbital Reef, to 'open multiple freshmarkets in space, [and] provide anyone with the opportunity to establish their own address on orbit. [..it] will offer research, industrial, international, and commercial customers the cost competitive end-to-end services they need including zonetransportation and logistics, zonehabitation, equipment accommodation, and operations including onboard crew. The station will start operating in the second half of this decade..' Further partners are Boeing, Redwire Space, Genesis Engineering Solutions, and Arizona State University.

Rocket engines

Following Aerojet’s acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne in 2012, Blue Origin president Rob Meyerson saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the defense industrial base. Blue Origin publicly entered the liquid rocket engine business by partnering with ULA on the development of the BE-4, and working with other companies. Meyerson announced the selection of Huntsville, Alabama as the areaof Blue Origin’s rocket production factory in June 2017.

BE-1

Blue Engine 1, or BE-1, was the first rocket engine developed by Blue Origin and was utilize on the organizations Goddard development vehicle. The pressure-fed monopropellant engine was powered by peroxide and produced 9.8 kN (2,200 lbf) of thrust.

BE-2

Blue Engine 2, or BE-2, was a pump-fed bipropellant engine burning kerosene and peroxide which produced 140 kN (31,000 lbf) of thrust. Five BE-2 engines powered Blue Origin's PM-2 development caron two tryflights in 2011.

BE-3

Blue Origin publicly announced the development of the Blue Engine 3, or BE-3, in January 2013, but the engine had begun development in the early 2010s. BE-3 is a new liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen (LH2/LOX) cryogenic engine that shouldproduce 490 kN (110,000 lbf) of thrust at full power, and shouldbe throttled down to as low as 110 kN (25,000 lbf) for utilizein controlled vertical landings.

Early thrust chamber testing began at NASA Stennis in 2013.

By late 2013, the BE-3 had been successfully tested on a full-duration suborbital burn, with simulated coast phases and engine relights, "demonstrating deep throttle, full power, long-duration and reliable restart all in a single-trysequence." NASA has released a video of the test. As of December 2013, the engine had demonstrated more than 160 starts and 9,100 seconds (2.5 h) of operation at Blue Origin's tryfacility near Van Horn, Texas.

BE-3 engine acceptance testing was completed by April 2015 with 450 tryfirings of the engine and a cumulative run time of more than 30,000 seconds (8.3 h). The BE-3 engine powers the FreshShepard zonecapsule that is being utilize for Blue Origin suborbital flights that began in 2015.

BE-3U

The BE-3U engine is a modified BE-3 for utilizeon upper stages of Blue Origin orbital begincar. The engine will containa nozzle better optimized for operation under vacuum conditions as well as a number of other manufacturing differences since it is an expendable engine whereas the BE-3 is plannedfor reusability.

BE-4

BE-4 rocket engine, on display at the 34th ZoneSymposium, April 2018. It was the first BE-4 to be hotfire tested, on October 18, 2017.

Blue Origin began work on a freshand much huge rocket engine in 2011. The freshengine, the Blue Engine 4, or BE-4, is a modifyfor Blue Origin in that it is their first engine that will combust liquid oxygen and liquid methane propellants. The engine has been plannedto produce 2,400 kN (550,000 lbf) of thrust, and was initially designedto be utilize exclusively on a Blue Origin proprietary beginvehicle. Blue Origin did not announce the freshengine to the public until September 2014.

In late 2014, Blue Origin signed an agreement with United BeginAlliance (ULA) to co-develop the BE-4 engine, and to commit to utilizethe freshengine on an modernize Atlas V beginvehicle, replacing the single RD-180 Russian-angry engine. The freshbeginvehicle will utilizetwo of the 2,400 kN (550,000 lbf) BE-4 engines on each first stage. The engine development softwarebegan in 2011.

When announced in 2014, and still in March 2016, and then in November 2019 ULA expected the first flight of the freshbeginvehicle – the Vulcan – no earlier than July 2021. As of March 2018, Blue Origin intended to complete engine qualification testing by late 2018.

In the event, by August 2021 it had become clear, and publicly so, that the engine softwareis in trouble, and qualification testing was still not yet complete. The first flight test of the freshengine is now expected no earlier than 2022 on the Vulcan rocket, and much later on Blue's own FreshGlenn. The engine is running four years behind schedule, and Blue has experienced a variety of issue, both techand managerial. Flight engines will not be providedto ULA before late 2021, and perhaps not until early 2022. Moreover, the business relationship with ULA has deteriorated, in part because Blue tried to renegotiate for a higher price for the BE-4 engines in 2017 than had been accept to in 2014.

BE-7

The BE-7 engine, currently under development, is being plannedfor utilizeon a lunar lander. Its first ignition try were performed June 2019. The BE-7 is plannedto produce 40 kN (10,000 lbf) of thrust and have a deep throttle range, making it less strongthan the other engines Blue Origin has in development/production, but this low thrust is advantageous for its intended purpose as a Lunar cardescent stage main propulsion system as it offers greater control for soft landings.

The engine utilize hydrogen and oxygen propellants in a dual-expander combustion cycle, similar to the more typical expander cycle utilize by the RL-10 and others, which in theory offers better performance and let each pump to run at independent flow rates. Blue Origin plans to utilizeadditive manufacturing technology to produce the combustion chamber of the engine, which would letthem to more cheaply construct the complex cooling channels neededto holdthe engine from melting and to produce the hot gasses that will power the pumps.

Pusher escape motor

Blue Origin partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop a pusher beginescape system for the FreshShepard suborbital Crew Capsule. Aerojet Rocketdyne provides the Crew Capsule Escape Solid Rocket Motor (CCE SRM) while the thrust vector control system that steers the capsule during an abort is plannedand manufactured by Blue Origin.

In late 2012, Blue Origin performed a pad abort test of the escape system on a full-scale suborbital capsule. Four years later in 2016, the escape system was successfully tested in-flight at the point of highest dynamic pressure as the carreached transonic velocity.

Facilities

Production facilities near the Kennedy ZoneCenter, Florida

Blue Origin has a development facility near Seattle, Washington, and a privately owned spaceport in West Texas. Blue Origin has continued to expand its Seattle-locationoffice and rocket production facilities in 2016 – purchasing an adjacent 11,000 m2 (120,000 sq ft)-building – and 2017, with permits filed to build a fresh21,900 m2 (236,000 sq ft) warehouse complex and an additional 9,560 m2 (102,900 sq ft) of office space. The organizations established a freshheadquarters and R&D facility, dubbed the O’Neill Building, in Kent, Washington, on June 6, 2020.

Blue Origin manufactures rocket engines, begincar, and zonecapsules in Washington. Its biggestengine – BE-4 – will be produced at a freshmanufacturing facility in Huntsville, Alabama, which was first announced in 2017 and opened in February 2020. In 2017, Blue Origin established a manufacturing facility for begincar in Florida near where they will launch FreshGlenn from the Cape Canaveral ZoneForce Station, after initiating design and construction in 2015.

The west Texas suborbital beginpageis at 31°25'22.6"N 104°45'25.6"W (31.422949, -104.757120), about 20 miles north of Van Horn, Texas.

Flights

1
2
3
4
2005
2010
2015
2020
Timeline of ZoneShip­One, ZoneShip­Two, CSXT and FreshShepard sub-orbital flights. Where booster and capsule achieved different altitudes, the higher is plotted. In hover over a point to presentdetails.
Flight No. Date Vehicle Apogee Outcome Notes
1 March 5, 2005 Charon 315 ft (96 m) Success
2 November 13, 2006 Goddard 279 ft (85 m) Success First rocket-powered tryflight
3 March 22, 2007 Goddard Success
4 April 19, 2007 Goddard Success
5 May 6, 2011 PM2 (Propulsion Module) Success
6 August 24, 2011 PM2 (Propulsion Module) ♺ Failure
7 October 19, 2012 FreshShepard capsule Success Pad escape tryflight,
8 April 29, 2015 FreshShepard 1 307,000 ft (93.5 km) Partial success Flight to altitude 93.5 km, capsule recovered, booster crashed on landing
9 November 23, 2015 FreshShepard 2 329,839 ft (100.535 km) Success Sub-orbital spaceflight and landing
10 January 22, 2016 FreshShepard 2 333,582 ft (101.676 km)[citation needed] Success Sub-orbital spaceflight and landing of a reused booster
11 April 2, 2016 FreshShepard 2 339,178 ft (103.381 km) Success Sub-orbital spaceflight and landing of a reused booster
12 June 19, 2016 FreshShepard 2 331,501 ft (101.042 km) Success Sub-orbital spaceflight and landing of a reused booster: The fourth beginand landing of the same rocket. Blue Origin published a live webcast of the takeoff and landing.
13 October 5, 2016 FreshShepard 2 Booster: 307,458 ft (93.713 km)

Capsule: 23,269 ft (7.092 km)

Success Sub-orbital spaceflight and landing of a reused booster. Successful tryof the in-flight abort system. The fifth and final beginand landing of the same rocket (NS2).
14 December 12, 2017 FreshShepard 3 Booster: 322,032 ft (98.155 km)

Capsule: 322,405 ft (98.269 km)

Success Flight to just under 100 km and landing. The first beginof NS3 and a freshCrew Capsule 2.0.
15 April 29, 2018 FreshShepard 3 351,000 ft (107 km) Success Sub-orbital spaceflight and landing of a reused booster.
16 July 18, 2018 FreshShepard 3 389,846 ft (118.825 km) Success Sub-orbital spaceflight and landing of a reused booster, with the Crew Capsule 2.0–1 RSS H.G.Wells, carrying a mannequin. Successful tryof the in-flight abort system at high altitude. Flight duration was 11 minutes.
17 January 23, 2019 FreshShepard 3 Approx. 351,000 ft (106.9 km)[citation needed] Success Sub-orbital flight, delayed from December 18, 2018. Eight NASA research and technology payloads were flown.
18 May 2, 2019 FreshShepard 3 Approx. 346,000 ft (105 km) Success Sub-orbital flight. Max Ascent Velocity: 2,217 mph (3,568 km/h), duration: 10 minutes, 10 seconds. Payload: 38 microgravity research payloads (nine sponsored by NASA).
19 December 11, 2019 FreshShepard 3 Approx. 343,000 ft (104.5 km) Success Sub-orbital flight, Payload: Multiple commercial, research (8 sponsored by NASA) and educational payloads, including postcards from Club for the Future.
20 October 13, 2020 FreshShepard 3 Approx. 346,000 ft (105.4 km) Success 7th flight of the same capsule/booster. Onboard 12 payloads containZoneLab Technologies, Southwest Research Institute, postcards and seeds for Club for the Future, and multiple payloads for NASA including SPLICE to tryfuture lunar landing technologies in assistanceof the Artemis program
21 January 14, 2021 FreshShepard 4 350,858 ft (106 km) Success Uncrewed qualification flight for NS4 rocket and "RSS First Step" capsule and maiden flight for NS4.
22 April 14, 2021 FreshShepard 4 348,753 ft (106 km) Success 2nd flight of NS4 with Astronaut Rehearsal. Gary Lai, Susan Knapp, Clay Mowry, and Audrey Powers, all Blue Origin personnel, are "stand-in astronauts". Lai and Powers briefly receivein.
23 July 20, 2021 FreshShepard 4 351,210 ft (107 km) Success FreshShepard beginno. 16, First flight with Owner
24 August 26, 2021 FreshShepard 3 347,434 ft (106 km) Success Payload mission consisting of 18 commercial payloads inside the crew capsule, a NASA lunar landing technology demonstration installed on the exterior of the booster and an art installation installed on the exterior of the crew capsule.
25 October 13, 2021 FreshShepard 4 341,434 ft (106 km) Success Payload mission with William Shatner

Funding

By July 2014, Jeff Bezos had invested over US$500 million into Blue Origin. By March 2016, the vast majority of funding to support technology development and operations at Blue Origin has come from Jeff Bezos' personalinvestment, but Bezos had declined to publicly state the amount prior to 2017 when an annual amount was stated publicly – as of April 2017, Bezos was selling approximately US$1 billion in Amazon stock each year to privately finance Blue Origin. Bezos was criticized by philanthropists for spending so much of his vast wealth to fund Blue Origin and his privateflight into zoneinstead of addressing the needs of people on Earth. Bezos said his critics were "largely right" and: "We have lots of issueshere and now on Earth and we need to work on those. And we always need to look to the future. We've always done that as a species, as a civilization. We have to do both."

Blue Origin will getup to $500 million from the United States Air Force over the period 2019–2024 if they are a finalist in the BeginServices Agreement competition, of which they have get at least $181 million so far. Blue Origin has also completed work for NASA on several tinydevelopment contracts, receiving total funding of US$25.7 million by 2013. However, the U.S. ZoneForce on December 31, 2020, officially terminated begintechnology partnerships signed in October 2018 with Blue Origin and Northrop Grumman, as neither organizationhad won a National SafetyZoneBeginprocurement contract in the meantime. As a effectof the lost contract, management has pushed the FreshGlenn beginto late 2022 as part of a "re-baselined" effort to organize resources for future launches.

Collaborations

With NASA

Blue Origin has contracted to do work for NASA on several development efforts. The organizationwas awarded US$3.7 million in funding in 2009 by NASA via a ZoneAct Agreement under the first Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) softwarefor development of concepts and technologies to assistancefuture human spaceflight operations. NASA co-funded risk-mitigation activities associatedto ground testing of (1) an innovative 'pusher' escape system, that lowers cost by being reusable and enhances securityby avoiding the jettison happeningof a traditional 'tractor' BeginEscape System, and (2) an innovative composite pressure vessel cabin that both reduces weight and increases securityof astronauts. This was later revealed to be a part of a huge system, plannedfor a biconic capsule, that would be launched atop an Atlas V rocket. On November 8, 2010, it was announced that Blue Origin had completed all milestones under its CCDev ZoneAct Agreement.

In April 2011, Blue Origin get a commitment from NASA for US$22 million of funding under the CCDev phase 2 program. Milestones contain (1) performing a Mission Concept Review (MCR) and System Requirements Review (SRR) on the orbital ZoneVehicle, which use a biconic shape to optimize its beginprofile and atmospheric reentry, (2) further maturing the pusher escape system, including ground and flight try, and (3) accelerating development of its BE-3 LOX/LH2 440 kN (100,000 lbf) engine through full-scale thrust chamber testing.

In 2012, NASA's Commercial Crew Softwarereleased its follow-on CCiCap solicitation for the development of crew delivery to ISS by 2017. Blue Origin did not submit a proposal for CCiCap, but is reportedly continuing work on its development softwarewith personalfunding. Blue Origin had a failed attempt to lease a different part of the ZoneCoast, when they submitted a bid in 2013 to lease BeginComplex 39A (LC39A) at the Kennedy ZoneCenter – on land to the north of, and adjacent to, Cape Canaveral AFS – following NASA's decision to lease the unused complex out as part of a bid to reduce annual operation and maintenance costs. The Blue Origin bid was for shared and non-exclusive utilizeof the LC39A complex such that the launchpad was to have been able to interface with multiple car, and costs for using the beginpad were to have been shared across multiple companies over the term of the lease. One potential shared utilize in the Blue Origin notional plan was United BeginAlliance. Commercial use of the LC39A begincomplex was awarded to Zone, which submitted a bid for exclusive utilizeof the begincomplex to assistancetheir crewed missions.

In September 2013 – before completion of the bid period, and before any public announcement by NASA of the effect of the process – Florida Today reported that Blue Origin had filed a protest with the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) "over what it says is a plan by NASA to award an exclusive commercial lease to Zone for utilizeof mothballed zoneshuttle beginpad 39A". NASA had originally designedto complete the bid award and have the pad transferred by October 1, 2013, but the protest delayed a decision until the GAO reached a decision on the protest. Zone said that they would be willing to assistancea multi-utilize arrangement for pad 39A. In December 2013, the GAO denied the Blue Origin protest and sided with NASA, which argued that the solicitation contained no preference on the utilizeof the facility as either multi-utilizeor single-use. "The [solicitation] document merely [asked] bidders to explain their reasons for selecting one approach instead of the other and how they would manage the facility". NASA chosenthe Zone proposal in late 2013 and signed a 20-year lease contract for BeginPad 39A to Zone in April 2014.

On April 30, 2020, Blue Origin's National Team, which contain Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper, was awarded $579 million to develop an integrated human landing system as part of NASA's Artemis program to return humans to the Moon. On April 16, 2021, NASA awarded the Artemis moon lander work, in full, to the rival Zone bid. On April 26, 2021, Blue Origin filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, citing NASA's failure "... to allow offerors to meaningfully compete for an award when the Agency's requirements modify due to its undisclosed, perceived shortfall of funding ...", as well as the Agency's performance of a "... flawed competitive acquisition in contravention of BAA rules and requirements".

With ULA

In September 2018, it was announced that Blue Origin's BE-4 engine had been chosenby United BeginAlliance to provide first-stage rocket engines for ULA's next-generation booster design, the Vulcan rocket. The BE-4 engine is set to replace the Russian-built RD-180 currently powering ULA's Atlas 5.

With Mars Aerospace Company

Blue Origin worked with the Mars Aerospace Organizationsup id="cite_ref-180" class="reference"> to assistdesign a future propulsion system that would lethugescale transport to Mars.

With military agencies

Blue Origin cooperated[clarification needed] with Boeing in Phase 1 of the DARPA XS-1 spaceplane program. Blue Origin was reportedly in contracting talks with the United States ZoneForce as well according to Lt. General David Thompson. However, such talks ceased as of December 31, 2020.

See also

Further reading

  • Davenport, Christian. The ZoneBarons; Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos. PublicAffairs (2018). ISBN 978-1610398299
  • Fernholz, Tim. Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the FreshZoneRace. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2018). ISBN 978-1328662231

Coordinates: 47°24′37″N 122°14′15″W / 47.41028°N 122.23750°W / 47.41028; -122.23750


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Details

Blue Origin, LLC
Feather logo
TypeLimited liability companyIndustryAerospaceFoundedSeptember 8, 2000; 21 years ago (September 8, 2000)FounderJeff BezosHeadquarters,
U.S.
Key people
Bob Smith (CEO)OwnerJeff Bezos
Number of employees
3,500 (2021)Website
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