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Blue Origin update on New Shepard and New Glenn

Capitalism in space: Blue Origin officials today provided an update on both its suborbital New Shepard spacecraft as well as its New Glenn orbital rocket.

First, the company’s CEO, Bob Smith, was quoted as saying that New Shepard would fly three more flights unmanned prior to its first manned flight, and that manned flight will occur before the end of this year.

Smith has made similar promises in the past, so if you are skeptical it is entirely understandable. They have already flown their second New Shepard craft six times successfully. It is unclear if they are they going with a new craft for these manned flights, or using this older test vehicle.

Second, the company released two short public relations videos touting the completion of the first fairing for their orbital New Glenn rocket. In addition, they still expect production of that rocket’s BE-4 engine to begin this year, with a first maiden flight next year.

That predicted launch date still fits the revamped schedule they announced back in October 2018, which suggests they have not experienced any major issues. The next year however will tell the tale.


Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Ray Van Dune

    The obvious question is why so slow? Looks like SpaceX is going to put humans in orbit before BO even gives a few of them an ultimate roller-coaster ride! And SpaceX is probably going to beat presumptive aerospace leaders Boeing and Lockheed putting humans into orbit, too.

    Is it because BO is limited by Bezos’ wealth, while SpaceX is playing with (future) StarLink cash flow? But isn’t the BE-4 engine selected for the new ULA Vulcan? Is that not a sufficient / secure enough / timely-enough revenue stream? Is BE-4 holding up Vulcan, or is Vulcan holding up demand for BE-4?

    Maybe the question is more properly not why BO, Boeing and Lockheed are so slow, but how is SpaceX so fast… and is it too fast?!

  • V-Man

    They have a different definition of “complete” than I do. I see no acoustic protection, no latches, no mounting lugs of any kind. And maybe I’ve been spoiled by SpaceX, but just thinking that they are going to throw this away… Ugh.

    (Also, why start with the fairing? Shouldn’t they have a working booster first?)

  • Edward

    From the article: “The Jeff Bezos-backed rocket company pumped the brakes on its test flight program last year

    It would have been nice for them to tell us why Blue Origin slowed down last year.

    Meanwhile, over the past two years they have had a year-for-year schedule slip on New Shepard, which is a bad sign. A project that is not converging toward completion is a project in trouble.

  • Wodun

    Slightly OT, here is a video tour of ULA with Bruno thanks to smarter everyday. Some good bits of info about Vulcan. There is a part 2 and a pad tour if you search the channel.

  • Edward

    Thank you for the link. I also liked part 2 and the visit to the pad.

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