It’s been a good week for Blue Origin, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture. Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin just paid a visit to the company’s headquarters in Kent, Wash., and today the team behind Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship won one of the space industry’s most prestigious prizes.
Aldrin dropped by only a couple of days after starring in a New York fashion show, and in a picture that Bezos tweeted today, it looks as if the 87-year-old space icon is wearing the same T-shirt. Aldrin is the guy standing in the front row between his son, aerospace executive Andrew Aldrin, and Bezos himself.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) February 2, 2017
The scorched booster in the background is the New Shepard propulsion module that sent a test capsule to space and back five times over the past 14 months. It’s getting a once-over at Blue Origin HQ before Bezos hands it over to a museum.
Meanwhile, the next New Shepard booster and capsule are being readied for future rounds of uncrewed flight tests at Blue Origin’s launch facility in West Texas. If all goes well, New Shepard could start sending test astronauts on trips to space by the end of this year.
Today, the National Space Club and Foundation announced that the New Shepard team won this year’s Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy.
Past winners run the gamut from Wernher von Braun, Ronald Reagan and John Glenn, to Apollo and space shuttle astronauts, to the teams behind such historic robotic missions as Viking, Voyager, Mars Curiosity and New Horizons.
Other award recipients include the team for NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter; and Andy Weir, the author of “The Martian” (which was made into a blockbuster movie starring Matt Damon).
The Goddard Memorial Trophy and the other awards will be handed out during the Goddard Memorial Dinner in Washington, D.C., on March 10 – and it’s a good bet that Bezos will be there.
He and the Blue Origin team have already won prizes ranging from the Heinlein Prize to the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award, so it may be challenging to figure out how to make room for the prize in Bezos’ trophy case.