Bezos emphasizes altitude advantage of New Shepard over SpaceShipTwo

NEW YORK — As Blue Origin prepares to start out flying individuals on its New Shepard suborbital car, the corporate’s founder says the altitude the car can attain will put it over Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo.

In an on-stage interview with table4 throughout a Wings Membership luncheon right here Feb. 20, Jeff Bezos reiterated statements made by different Blue Origin executives that the corporate expects to start out flying individuals on New Shepard later this yr.

“That is the primary time that I’ve ever been saying ‘this yr,’” he stated of these plans. “For a couple of years I’ve been saying ‘subsequent yr.’”

New Shepard has been going by means of a flight take a look at program with out individuals on board, together with its most up-to-date flight, NS-10, Jan. 23. That take a look at program is “going rather well,” he stated, citing such milestones as testing of the escape system for the car’s crew capsule. “We’ve examined all of the envelope for escape. It’s one of the difficult issues that we’ve performed.”

As Blue Origin prepares to start out flying individuals on New Shepard, Virgin Galactic can be edging nearer to business flights of its SpaceShipTwo car. The newest take a look at of the suborbital spaceplane, scheduled for Feb. 20 from Mojave Air and House Port, was postponed due to winds. The corporate stated it’s going to strive once more Feb. 22.

Bezos, within the interview, identified the altitude distinction between the 2 autos. New Shepard has sometimes exceeded 100 kilometers, an altitude generally known as the Karman Line, on its take a look at flights. SpaceShipTwo reached a peak altitude of 82.7 kilometers on its most up-to-date take a look at flight Dec. 13, its first above the 50-mile boundary utilized by U.S. authorities businesses to award astronaut wings.

“One of many points that Virgin Galactic must tackle, finally, is that they don’t seem to be flying above the Karman Line, not but,” Bezos stated. “I feel one of many issues they must determine easy methods to get above the Karman Line.”

“We’ve all the time had as our mission that we needed to fly above the Karman Line, as a result of we didn’t need there to be any asterisks subsequent to your title about whether or not you’re an astronaut or not,” he continued. “That’s one thing they’re going to have to handle, in my view.”

For individuals who fly on New Shepard, he stated, there’ll be “no asterisks.”

Bezos emphasised in his remarks that whereas “we’re in excellent form” within the New Shepard growth program, he’s not pushed by schedule. “I do maintain reminding the group — I’m relentless on this — that it’s not a race,” he stated. “I need to fly this yr with people, however we’ll fly once we’re prepared.”

In an interview that additionally touched on the corporate’s New Glenn orbital launch car and the BE-4 engine that may energy it, Bezos defined how New Shepard will match into that general growth plan.

“The strategic goal of New Shepard is to apply,” he stated. “Numerous the subcomponents of New Shepard really get straight reused on the second stage of New Glenn.” That features, he famous, a variant of New Shepard’s BE-3 engine that will likely be used on the second stage of New Glenn.

“All of these methods will get an amazing quantity of apply with that suborbital mission and will likely be carried over on to the higher stage” of New Glenn, he stated. “The teachings discovered on issues like landings and operability and reusability, all these issues from the New Shepard program, these additionally get integrated into the New Glenn booster.”

He additionally tied New Shepard to the early barnstorming period of aviation, the place such flights constructed up experience to permit the aviation trade to develop within the early twentieth century. “That’s going to be our barnstorming,” he stated of New Shepard.

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