Blue Origin Tourist Flights Still Expected in 2019, But No Price or Ticket Sales Yet

Blue Origin Tourist Flights Still Expected in 2019, But No Price or Ticket Sales Yet

Blue Origin’s Ariane Cornell spoke at AIAA’s SciTech Forum in San Diego today.  During her remarks on a panel entitled “Exploration for Everyone” she provided updates on the company’s New Shepard, New Glenn, and Blue Moon projects.

Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin. Credit: Cornell’s LinkedIn page.

Cornell is the company’s Head of Astronaut Strategy and Sales and New Glenn Commercial Sales Director-Americas.

New Shepard is the reusable, suborbital rocket Blue Origin is developing to take tourists to space, named after Alan Shepard.  A number of tests have taken place already, including one vehicle that made five flights.  The latest test was scheduled for mid-December, but was scrubbed.

Cornell did not provide a new date for the test, only that it would be “relatively soon.”  She did say they still hope to launch people on the rocket in early 2019, but will not do so until they are ready.  “I would jump on top of that rocket tomorrow,” she enthused, but “we have to do it right.”

She also said the company has not decided on the price it will charge or when it will begin selling tickets.

Since the topic of the panel was exploration for “everyone,” she was asked how ventures like this really will be for all, not just the ultra-wealthy and well educated.  Regarding human spaceflight, she replied “we are going to find ways to make sure that it is not just the ultra-wealthy that are going to be able fly into space.”  The goal is to drive down the price of tickets, but “we are going to find ways in the interim” to make sure that happens.

Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, also reusable, will be capable of achieving orbit and is named after John Glenn.  She said “extensive testing” of the BE-4 and BE-3U (upper stage) rocket engines is underway and the first flight will be in 2021. They already have their first commercial customer, Eutelsat.  She also referenced Blue Origin’s win of one of the Air Force Launch Service Agreements (LSAs), saying that means New Glenn will be launching national security satellites soon.

The Air Force awarded LSAs to facilitate development of three domestic launch system prototypes.  The other two awards went to Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems for its OmegA Launch System and to United Launch Alliance for the Vulcan Centaur Launch System. The Air Force plans to choose only two of those, however, for future procurements.

The company is also making progress on its Blue Moon lunar lander project to deliver cargo.  Cornell said the first flight will be in 2023 and can land 10,000 pounds on the lunar surface.  She stressed that Blue Origin is “destination agnostic” and the goal is to be a transportation service provider for many customers to the “Moon and other destinations.”

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.