Jeff Bezos Renews Focus on Blue Origin, Which Has Been Slower to Launch

Jeff Bezos Renews Focus on Blue Origin, Which Has Been Slower to Launch

For most of its two decades of existence, Blue Origin was similar to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in Ronald Dahl’s children’s book.

It was a rocket company, founded by Jeffrey P. Bezos, who made the billionaire. Only knew this much. What the company was actually doing was shrouded in mystery.

“But everyone wanted to get in,” laughed Carissa Christenson, founder and chief executive of Bryce Space & Technology, an aerospace consulting firm.

Mr. Bezos announced on Tuesday that he would step down as chief executive of Amazon this summer and become executive chairman. In his letter to Amazon employees, He said he wants to put time and energy into other passions and lists Blue Origin among them.

The coming years for Blue Origin promise to be busy – flying tourists on small suborbital jaunts, launching satellites on a new rocket, developing a lunar lander for NASA.

Does this mean that Mr. Bezos will play a larger role in his rocket company?

“If Jeff chose to spend more time at Blue Origin during the next phase of his career, it would be a great thing for Blue,” said Rob Meyerson, who was president of Blue Origin from 2003 to 2017. “Great operational expertise and great mission passion for business.”

Mr. Meyerson noted that Mr. Bezos’ other ventures include the Bezos Earth Fund, which last year gave a $ 100 million grant to the Environmental Defense Fund to build and operate a methane-detecting satellite. Amazon, where Mr. Bezos will continue to join, is developing Project Kuiper, a constellation of satellites Providing Internet service to the Earth.

“It is clear that space will be a major theme,” Mr. Mayerson said.

Mr. Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000 – two years before Elon Musk started the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX.

But by the time Mr. Musk and SpaceX have already built a thriving business – bringing satellites and NASA astronauts into orbit is developing a giant rocket named Starship, intended to take people to Mars someday – Blue Origin Lag sounds.

In its early days, the company offered only occasional news drips. Reporters will ask the company to “deny comment” to a demonstration to Blue Origin’s public relations.

In November 2006, Gumdrop-shaped test craft successfully rises 285 feet into the air And then slowly returned to land at a test site in West Texas. Mr. Bezos reported the success in a blog post on the Blue Origin website – a month and a half later.

There was no other update for four and a half years until Mr. Bezos accepted That a test vehicle had crashed, But only after the Wall Street Journal reported the failure.

Over the years, Blue Origin became less secretive. Five years ago, Mr. Bezos welcomed a group of reporters to visit the company’s headquarters in Kent, Wash., A few miles from Seattle. Over lunch, he happily answered questions. He said, “It is my great pleasure.” “I hope you can understand that I like it.”

Since then, Blue Origin has grown quickly. this is A NASA contracts to develop a lander that can take astronauts to the lunar surface In a few years. It sells rocket engines to another rocket company, United Launch Alliance. this Charges customers to fly science experiments on New ShepardA suborbital spacecraft.

But they are still very small. Blue Origin has yet to begin sales for New Shepard’s primary business – taking tourists on short rides to the edge of space – or even on any of the test flight riders. .

New Glenn, a large rocket that will compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 workhorse, will not take off on its first flight until at least the end of this year.

“They have grand plans, but no humans of their craft are yet to actually launch,” said Laura Seward Forsky, owner of Astralitical, a space consulting company.

Mr. Musk and Mr. Bezos have periodically given information about their rockets and whether humans should aim for Mars – Mr. Musk’s ultimate destination – or build free-floating colonies as Mr. Bezos.

in An interview with Maureen Dove last year, Mr. Musk offered faint praise for Mr. Bezos and Blue Origin: “The rate of progress is very slow and the amount of years he has left is not enough, but I am still happy what he is doing with Blue Origin Huh.”

This does not mean that Blue Origin is far behind.

During his tour with reporters in 2016, Mr. Bezos pointed to an image in the central area of ​​the headquarters. It featured two turtles with an hourglass and looked upwards towards the universe. Below was the motto of Blue Origin: Graditim Ferrociter, which is Latin for “step by step, ferocity”.

The Blue Originals can expect the phablet to turn to the turtle where a fast defeat at a slow and steady pace leads to victory. Mr. Bezos’ assets – he is selling billions of dollars in Amazon’s stock to help Blue Origin – allow Blue Origin to follow a methodological, long-term plan without the need to generate more revenue in the short term is.

Mr. Bezos has talked in more detail about a future where millions of people live and work in space. The purpose of Blue Origin, he said is to help people get there.

“We’re going to build a road to space,” Mr. Bezos said During a presentation in 2019 When he unveiled a design for a lunar lander. “And then amazing things will happen.”

Blue Origin now in Huntsville, Ala. Outside NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to collect the New Glenn Rockets. Has a rocket engine factory.

In 2016, Mr. Bezos said he spent one day a week at Blue Origin. Although he majored in electrical engineering and computer science as an undergraduate at Princeton, Mr. Bezos let his engineers talk to reporters about the technical aspects of the Blue Origin spacecraft.

In contrast, Mr. Musk, with the rank of Chief Engineer, is deeply involved with the engineering details at SpaceX, although Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Gwen Shotwell handles the day-to-day details of the company.

Thus, Blue Origin turns to the pursuit of revenue and profits from research and development, now may be an ideal time to bring someone along with Amazon’s business successes.

“He is a business man who knows how to make money,” Ms. Christenson said. “Perhaps this is the moment in time where staying away is very exciting for him.”

He said: “Amazon was like no other company before. If Jeff Bezos is truly going to devote more time to Blue, I wonder if there is going to be another launch company like this before. “



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