Visitors to Seattle’s Museum of Flight will get a surprise treat starting today.
Blue Origin, the often-secretive commercial space venture started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has loaned the museum its “Charon” flying test vehicle — a jet-powered aircraft used by the company in 2005 to test the vertical takeoff and landing technologies being developed for Blue Origin’s spacecraft.
Blue Origin, based south of Seattle, is one of the companies using funding from NASA to develop commercial spaceflight technologies to transport astronauts and cargo following the end of the Space Shuttle program.
Weighing in at 9,500 pounds, Charon was transported and brought to rest this morning inside the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery at the Museum of Flight, which also houses a Soyuz capsule and will soon be the home of NASA’s Full Fuselage Trainer — a Space Shuttle replica that has been arriving in pieces for reassembly inside the building.
“We are proud to share this piece of our company history with The Museum of Flight,” said Rob Meyerson, president and program manager of Blue Origin, in a news release. “By making the original Charon vehicle available for public viewing, we hope to educate and inspire the next generation of aerospace explorers.”
Charon was flown on March 5, 2005, in Moses Lake, Wash., to an altitude of 316 feet before making a controlled landing. Blue Origin says it’s still using the processes developed in the Charon project in its rocket-powered vehicles including its New Shepard spacecraft.
The vehicle will be on display at the museum indefinitely. Here are a few more photos from GeekWire’s visit to the Space Gallery today. Click any image for a larger version and gallery.