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Blue Origin New Shepard booster on crane
A crane hoists Blue Origin’s space-flown New Shepard booster into position at the Space Symposium in Colorado. (Ariane Cornell Photo via Twitter)

Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship is continuing its farewell tour this week with a stopover at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., and there’s even a mockup of the crew capsule for would-be space tourists to sit in.

The Seattle area’s best-known space company, founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos back in 2000, is making a splash by erecting the slightly toasted rocket booster near the Colorado conference’s hottest hot spot, the Broadmoor Hotel.

Tweets tell the story, starting with a snapshot of Blue Origin President Rob Meyerson and Ariane Cornell, who’s on the company’s strategy and business development team:

Cornell reportedly joked that landing the booster at the Space Symposium was almost as hard as landing it at Blue Origin’s launch site in West Texas.

The most recent suborbital launch and landing took place last October. Since then, the New Shepard booster has traveled back for analysis at Blue Origin’s headquarters in Kent, Wash.; then to Amazon’s MARS 2017 conference in Palm Springs, Calif.; and now to Colorado Springs.

Bezos has said the New Shepard booster and its space-flown crew capsule would eventually go on display at a museum to be named later (maybe Seattle’s Museum of Flight?). For now, though, Blue Origin is taking the show on the road.

If Blue Origin sticks to its testing schedule, passengers could be climbing into a flight-ready New Shepard capsule for suborbital spaceflights by the end of next year. Like the test flights, those trips would take place in West Texas.

SpaceX, the company that’s been landing rocket boosters on a barge (um, “autonomous spaceport drone ship,” to use the preferred term), is also pioneering rocket reusability with its orbital-class Falcon 9 rockets. Last week SpaceX took a giant leap forward by successfully launching and landing a pre-flown (um, “flight-proven”) rocket for the first time.

Blue Origin is developing its own orbital-class rocket, known as the New Glenn, which could start launching payloads and landing on ships by around 2020.

Much has been made of the space competition between Bezos and Musk, and between billionaire-led and government-led space efforts. But is competition a bad thing? That’s not the way Cornell sees it, according to a report passed along by planetary scientist Tanya Harrison:

We’ll be getting our own close encounter with Blue Origin’s booster and capsules. Stay tuned for GeekWire’s on-the-scene coverage from the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.

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