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New Shepard photo op
Blue Origin employees and their families got their pictures taken with the scorched New Shepard rocket booster and crew capsule during this year’s holiday party at the company’s production facility in Kent, Wash. (Photo courtesy of @Megsylhydrazine via Twitter)

How many holiday parties let you get your picture taken with a fully reusable rocket ship that’s been to space and back five times? There’s been at least one, at Blue Origin’s production facility in Kent, Wash.

The shindig gave employees and their families the chance to get up close and personal with the New Shepard booster and capsule, which are undergoing analysis in Kent after more than a year’s worth of flight tests.

Once the engineers at Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture learn as much as they can about the craft and how it performed, the hardware will be handed over to a museum for display. A new New Shepard will go into service for the next suborbital flight test at Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site.

Pictures from the holiday party showed up over the weekend on Twitter and Reddit. “Can I be your +1 next year then?” one Redditor asked.

A couple of Redditors marveled at the scorch marks on Blue Origin’s booster, which withstood a blast from the capsule’s escape rocket motor during its last flight test in October.

“I hope they won’t repaint it before putting it up for display. The scorching really shows off what it went through during the capsule escape test,” one wrote.

Another commenter agreed: “If it’s all painted up and pretty, they might as well just donate a mockup. One of the great things about seeing old NASA gear in museums is that they still have scorch marks from re-entry. A visual testament to the hell the equipment went through.”

Seattle’s Museum of Flight would love to have the hardware, scorch marks and all. But it’s up to Bezos and Blue Origin to decide where the first spacefaring New Shepard goes, and when.

I, for one, am rooting for the home team.

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