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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos talks about his space venture Blue Origin at the grand opening of the Bezos Center of Innovation at The Museum of History & Industry in Seattle.

Blue Origin, the Seattle-based space venture backed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, has been quietly working for the past 13 years on development and testing of its New Shepard rocket.

Image credit: Blue Origin.
Image credit: Blue Origin.

On Friday, Bezos said that the company is now up to 300 employees and is inching closer to commercial operation. The 49-year-old Amazon founder was speaking at the grand opening of the Bezos Center of Innovation at The Museum of History & Industry in Seattle.

“The project is going extremely well,” Bezos said of Blue Origin. “It’s a killer team of passionate, highly-technical people working on this.”

Blue Origin is now working on its third version of the New Shepard, which is designed to take everyday people on suborbital journeys. Bezos said that he’s hopeful that this will be the last iteration, and he wants to see the next vehicle ready for commercial operation.

“I’m very optimistic about that,” he said.

Bezos didn’t give any specific timetables. However, he did say that Blue Origin’s orbital vehicle, designed to send astronauts to the International Space Station and elsewhere, will be tested by 2018.

Eventually, the goal is to let anyone fly up into space safely at reasonable prices.

“That’s the mission,” Bezos said.

Blue Origin, which has yet to send anything up into space, is currently embroiled in a battle with Elon Musk’s SpaceX over a vacant NASA shuttle launch pad. Musk recently said that “unicorns will dance” before Bezos makes it to space.

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  • Wayne Martin

    If you are going to quote someone give that person the courtesy of getting what they said and about why they said what they said correctly…

    You couldn’t have Screwed that up worse if you had gotten Elon’s quote 5th hand from someone on a 10 day drunk…

    Elon actually said the following quote about Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos ability to get to space in the NEXT 5 YEARS due to Bezos childish complaint and attempted block of NASA Exclusively leasing the former Shuttle launch Pad 39a to Space X for the next 5 years to launch to the ISS…

    Elon said:

    “Frankly, I think we are more likely to discover unicorns dancing in the flame duct.”

    After saying he would gladly work something out if the pad was needed… but as this article suggests Shepherd won’t launch any earlier then 2018 or about 5 years from now…

    Keep in mind Space X has already had 3 successful cargo deliveries to the ISS…

    Absolutely Pathetic…

    • Wayne Martin

      Nice to hear some inside information!

      It’s actually the first inside information I have heard on what is probably the tightest lipped company ever…

      I am actually for any success whatsoever in the ambitions toward space exploration…

      Especially since NASA gets completely gutted anytime there is a new administration…

      • art7

        You’re right. The answer: You need to change the politicians. NASA has done a splendid job in the past (from a one person suborbital capsule to walking on the moon in 10 years) – it’s the assinine politicians that keep getting in the way.

  • Former Blue

    I worked at Blue. I quit and went back to a decent job. The pace is glacial, the risks are extravagant, the demands on employees are abominable. In a commercial environment they would be smoked. Without Jeff’s deep pockets they would have already folded. PM1 blew up on the pad. PM2 blew up in flight. A flight of PM3 in 2014 is optimistic at best. Flight to the space station in 2018 is laughable. Sorry guys, that’s what it is.

    • Tonya

      What I might say in the man’s defence, is that there is a long history of similar tales from people that worked with him at Amazon. In particular, some of the history behind their cloud hosting business from former engineers is quite shocking.

      Somehow though, that produced a successful product. He’s clearly not someone to dismiss lightly, even when his efforts appear chaotic.

      • art7

        When you have enough money to blow, you’ll eventually get it right. But to have to blow that much money to get it right, is pretty doggone dumb… and wasteful. Not smart.

    • Bill Howard

      ok, lets do a breakdown on this.
      ” Without Jeff’s deep pockets they would have already folded
      um, without jeff’s pockets they would not exist as they don’t sell anything to anyone by design.
      “PM1 blew up on the pad”

      yes, after many successful flights, they essentially kept testing it until it failed, and then investigate why it failed. seems like a great test ethic.

      “PM2 blew up in flight”

      simply not true.
      the last point comes from the Blue Origin website.

      “You must have a genuine passion for space. Without passion, you will find what we’re trying to do too difficult. There are much easier jobs.”
      i guess you did not pass the test…
      sorry, thats what it is..

      • art7

        Sounds like an opinion only…

  • art7

    Bezo’s Blue Origin employes 300 people… Wow… and they’re working on a sub orbital rocket… Wow…

    NEWS FLASH… NASA was launching great rockets, putting three men on the moon, repeatedly, FIFTY YEARS AGO.

    Sorry Bezos, I can only imagine you’re in this for a tax write off, ego (“Hey look at me, I have money”), publicity, or just to be a jerk with your competitors (who are way beyond where you’ll ever be), because you certainly are not serious… and to think you’re “igniting the future” when all you’re doing is what Goddard did almost a hundred years ago. Go away already and leave Space to the big boys (and girls) with guts and who are serious.

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