Since the first space flight by founder Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin has lost 17 engineers in the company’s rocket engine program. Despite the company’s continued progress and plans for a crewed mission, the rocket engine program remains in the earliest stages. Despite the lack of flight engines, the company is planning to launch its first crewed mission as early as 2022. While the company has yet to deliver its first flight engine, the CEO highlighted the contributions of Vilja.
17 engineers from Blue Origin’s rocket engine program have left the company since Bezos’ spaceflight
A large group of engineers at Blue Origin have been leaving the company after Bezos’ successful spaceflight last month. Blue Origin did not provide a reason for their departure, but many have left over frustration with the company’s executive management. Several of the engineers have updated their LinkedIn pages since the spaceflight. Bezos has a reputation for a dislike of bureaucracy, and many of his managers are no exception.
The departures of engineers aren’t limited to the rocket engine program. Seventeen engineers from the company’s rocket engine program have left since Bezos’ spaceflight. However, it does seem like a lack of engineering talent is the most obvious cause for the departures. The New Shepard mission was designed to take payloads of 25,000 postcards. Bezos reportedly wished for astronauts to have the ability to work for free and work from home.
The company is preparing to launch its first crewed mission in 2022
The company is working to launch a crewed capsule to Mars in 2022, with a goal of completing the trip within two years. The company is currently working on improving its hydraulics system and will incorporate it into future modules. The company is working to complete the assembly of two more propulsion modules, serial numbers two and three. The flight is not expected to be a headline-making event, but will likely be typical of the company’s future flights.
Although Blue Origin is the first company to start launching regular suborbital space tourism flights, Virgin Galactic and SpaceX have already flown their first crewed flight. However, these companies have yet to follow up with a second flight. In fact, Virgin Galactic is undergoing unrelated technology upgrades and may return to flying later this year. While Blue Origin is preparing to launch its first crewed mission in 2022, it has not made a decision on which aircraft it will launch.
The company has yet to deliver its first flight engines
The company has not yet delivered its first flight engines, but it is aiming to have two BE-4 engines ready by the end of the year. ULA, which has been a major investor in Blue Origin, has signed a contract with the company to use its BE-4 engine for its Vulcan rocket. While the company had originally hoped to have the BE-4 engines ready in late 2020 or early 2021, development hurdles have slowed the process.
The company is aiming to deliver the BE-4 engine in the first quarter of 2022 and is currently rehabilitating a test stand built by NASA in the 1960s. The company is also working on a space station known as the Orbital Reef. The mission to the moon is not yet a done deal, but it plans to complete a pathfinder mission to low Earth orbit and a lunar descent element.
Plans for a crewed mission
At a panel last year on the role of space in military logistics, Thomas Martin, director of national security programs for the U.S. Transportation Command said the agency has been in talks with Blue Origin about incorporating its rocket engine technology into military space transportation systems. In January, NASA awarded Blue Origin $25 million in contracts for commercial crew development programs, a program that funds private companies to develop vehicles to send people to the International Space Station. But since Blue Origin is not currently in a position to begin its own crewed mission, the U.S. government has chosen other private companies such as SpaceX and Boeing for the mission.
The company expects to fly two New Shepard missions this year but did not provide an update on future flight schedules. But it did announce that Daemen will be the fourth person on the New Shepard flight on July 15. He will join an unidentified space traveller who won a seat in the June 12 auction but cancelled the mission due to a scheduling conflict.
Plans for a moon lander
After launching its New Shepherd rocket earlier this month, the private space company revealed plans for an unmanned lunar lander. The plans are part of the Blue Origin National Team, which would link up with NASA’s Orion deep-space capsule and a gateway platform in high lunar orbit. Blue Origin is competing with several other space companies and countries in the new moon race. The goal is to send astronauts back to the moon by 2024 after NASA has left the moon unoccupied for several decades. The last time a $30 million prize went unclaimed was last year when an Israeli private nonprofit crashed while trying to land on the moon.
The company is focusing on rocket-powered VTVL vehicles and is currently seeking applicants for a series of engineering positions, including chief engineers. The company has also advertised for administrative assistants, with a vast majority of the positions related to software and systems development. Currently, Blue Origin has more than 50 open positions in its Moon lander program, including chief engineers and administrative assistants.