Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin To Begin Suborbital Rocket Flights Later This Year

It won’t be that long before space is a vacation destination. Space flight company Blue Origin announced that it has completed the rocket engine for its New Shepard spaceship and plans to begin tests before the end of the year.

“The BE-3 has now been fired for more than 30,000 seconds over the course of 450 tests,” said Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin founder and Amazon CEO. “We test, learn, refine and then test again to push our engines. The Blue Origin team did an outstanding job exploring the corners of what the BD-3 can do and soon we’ll put it to the ultimate test of flight.”

The Blue Origin BE-3 rocket engine

Tickets aren’t on sale just yet, but Blue Origin felt comfortable enough with its progress to start getting the word out. There is still plenty of testing before the rocket starts taking affluent vacationers on suborbital spaceflights, though. The company plans to send the rocket up to its 62-mile cruising altitude multiple times on unmanned missions before sending it up with a pilot. Presumably, uneventful manned test flights will lead to Blue Origin officially opening for business.

Blue Origin has other competitors for commercial spaceflight from the likes of Virgin Galactic and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has been testing its Dragon suborbital spaceship with mixed results. Like the Dragon, the New Shepard sticks to suborbital flights, which send the rocket high enough for customers to experience weightlessness, but re-enter the atmosphere after a period of time. Blue Origin also has its eye on orbital flights.