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Blue Origin delivers the engines for first Vulcan rocket

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture says it has completed delivery of the two BE-4 rocket engines that will be used next year for the first launch of United Launch Alliance’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rocket.

The delivery to ULA’s factory in Alabama comes two years later than the schedule called for when ULA chose Blue Origin as the engine supplier for the Vulcan first-stage booster in 2018.

In a tweet, United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno said one of the engines has already been placed on the booster, and the other one “will join it momentarily.”

Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said he’s “excited to see ULA’s Vulcan fly.”

“The BE-4 is a great engine, and we’re proud of Team Blue for achieving this milestone as part of ULA’s team,” Smith said in a news release. “It’s been a wonderful partnership, and this shipset is the first of many more to come.”

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Memo points to Blue Origin expansion around its HQ

The workforce at Blue Origin, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ space venture, has been growing by leaps and bounds — and so has the need for office and lab space.

A memo laying out a real-estate sales offering suggests that Renton, Wash., the Seattle suburb right next door to Blue Origin’s headquarters in Kent, is a prime destination for many of the company’s 3,000-plus employees in the area. The memo was issued last month by Jones Lang LaSalle, the sales adviser for the sellers, and was brought to light this week by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

The focus of the offering is The Landmark, a Renton office complex that’s up for sale at a price that hasn’t been publicly disclosed. The property, with 274,931 square feet of rentable space, had been purchased by California-based Redwood-Kairos Real Estate Partners in 2015 for $45 million.

Blue Origin’s stable presence at The Landmark is one of the big selling points. “The Landmark is strategically located just 10 minutes from Blue Origin’s headquarters,” JLL’s memo says.

According to the memo, Blue Origin occupies 83% of the space in two Landmark buildings, at 1600 Lind Ave. SW and 1600 E. Valley Road. Tyler Technologies, a Texas-based company specializing in public-sector software, takes up another 13%. “Since Blue Origin signed their initial lease in July 2021 for 92,834 square feet, they have taken every available space and negotiated tenant relocations (Wizards of the Coast) to allow for a 227,033 square-foot footprint today (more than doubling in size in less than a year),” JLL said.

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Orbital Reef space station wins role in sci-fi movie

The commercial space station that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture has a hand in building, known as Orbital Reef. will be getting some Hollywood-level product placement years before it’s due to go into operation.

Blue Origin and the other partners in the Orbital Reef project today announced a cross-promotional deal with Centerboro Productions to portray the space outpost in an upcoming sci-fi movie titled “Helios.” The announcement was timed to coincide with this week’s International Astronautical Congress in Paris.

The movie is set in 2030, which is around the time Orbital Reef could become a reality — assuming that the funding from NASA and from commercial partners continues to flow.

“The film will tell the story of a spaceship, the Helios, and its crew during their urgent mission to the International Space Station,” a plot synopsis reads. “When a massive solar flare hits the station, it is up to astronomer and former NASA astronaut Jess Denver and Air Force Colonel Sam Adler to team up and save humanity.”

Orbital Reef is to be featured as a next-generation space station that serves as a critical resource for the Helios crew.

“We teamed up with Blue Origin to give moviegoers a thrilling but realistic depiction of the future of living and working in space and a coordinated response to a space weather emergency,” Patricia A. Beninati, who’s one of the film’s producers and writers as well as the president of Centerboro Productions, said in a news release.

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Uncrewed Blue Origin flight cut short by anomaly

A booster misfire caused an early end today for an uncrewed suborbital space mission launched by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture.

It was the first Blue Origin mission to fall short of its goal since the first flight of the company’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship in 2015. Blue Origin didn’t immediately say what caused today’s anomaly. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would oversee an investigation into the mishap and would eventually have to sign off on Blue Origin’s return to flight.

No people were aboard the spacecraft. Instead, this mission was dedicated to scientific payloads and STEM education. The New Shepard spaceship carried 36 payloads, half of which were funded by NASA, plus tens of thousands of postcards that were sent in by students and flown courtesy of Blue Origin’s educational foundation. the Club for the Future.

This was the first dedicated payload launch since August 2021, coming amid a string of six crewed suborbital flights that saw 31 customers and special guests (including Bezos himself) go to space and back.

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First Egyptian and Portuguese spacefliers take a ride

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture sent six more crew members on a suborbital space ride, including the first Egyptian and Portuguese citizens to reach the final frontier.

Thanks to today’s flight from Launch Site One in West Texas, Blue Origin’s list of spacefliers has grown to 31 over the course of a little more than a year. Bezos himself went on the first crewed flight in July 2021, and Florida investor Evan Dick bought two tickets to space.

The lineup for NS-22 — the 22nd mission for the New Shepard suborbital launch system, and the sixth crewed flight — set a couple of precedents. Portugal’s first spaceflier is Mario Ferreira, an entrepreneur, investor and president of Porto-based Pluris Investments. The first from Egypt is Sara Sabry, a mechanical and biomedical engineer who founded a nonprofit called Deep Space Initiative. Sabry was the second Blue Origin crew member sponsored by Space for Humanity, a nonprofit that supports citizen astronauts.

Rounding out the “Titanium Feather” crew were Coby Cotton, a co-founder of the Dude Perfect sports/entertainment channel; Vanessa O’Brien, a British-American explorer and former banking executive; Clint Kelly III, who helped pioneer technologies for driverless cars; and Steve Young, former CEO of Young’s Communications LLC.

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Blue Origin crew will mark firsts for Egypt and Portugal

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture still has some final-frontier firsts up its sleeve: Today the company said its next crewed suborbital flight will send up the first spacefliers to hail from Egypt and Portugal.

But when will they fly? The launch date is still up in the air.

The lineup for Blue Origin’s sixth crewed mission — which is known as NS-22 because it’s the 22nd flight overall, including uncrewed flights — will also include a co-founder of the Dude Perfect sports/entertainment video venture, a British-American mountaineer, a driverless-car pioneer and a former telecom executive.

Today’s crew announcement comes a year and two days after Blue Origin’s first-ever crewed flight, which sent Bezos and three others beyond the 100-kilometer Karman Line that marks the internationally accepted boundary of outer space.

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After SpaceX trip, citizen astronaut joins Blue Origin

Seattle-area data engineer Chris Sembroski got his first taste of space last year during an orbital trip in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, but now he’s got a full-time job in the space industry — as an avionics engineer at Blue Origin.

In today’s Twitter update, Sembroski made no mention of the rivalry between SpaceX’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, who founded the Blue Origin space venture as well as Amazon.

Instead, he played up the allure of the space frontier, as reflected in newly released pictures from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST. “Space beckons us. It taunts us,” he wrote.

“Images of our universe from Hubble and JWST pull on our desires to explore and to seek out new adventures,” Sembroski said. “I am thrilled to be a part of our expansion out to the rest of the universe — AND to announce I have joined @blueorigin! Let’s go!”

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Blue Origin space trip marks firsts (and seconds)

Blue Origin sent the first Mexican-born woman and the first crypto-crowdfunded crew member into space today, marking the fifth crewed suborbital flight for Jeff Bezos’ space venture.

In addition to the firsts, there was a “second”: the first Blue Origin customer to take a repeat trip to space.

The New Shepard spaceship lifted off from Blue Origin’s Launch Site One in West Texas at 8:26 a.m. CT (6:26 a.m. PT), sending the crew to a maximum altitude of 66.5 miles (107 kilometers) above sea level — beyond the 100-kilometer Karman Line that marks the internationally accepted boundary of outer space.

While New Shepard’s reusable booster flew itself back to a landing pad, the crew enjoyed a few minutes of weightlessness and an astronaut’s-eye view of Earth. Just a little more than 10 minutes after launch, New Shepard’s crew capsule made a parachute-aided landing amid the Texas rangeland.

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Space trip blazes a trail for getting a ticket to ride

The suborbital tours provided by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin’s space venture have been notable for who was flying, but the mission set for launch today is just as notable for how some of its crew members are getting to fly.

One spaceflier, Katya Echazarreta, is the first beneficiary of Space for Humanity’s Citizen Astronaut Program, a philanthropic effort that sponsors spaceflights for worthy applicants. Echazarreta, an electrical engineer who’s the co-host of the YouTube series “Netflix IRL” and a member of CBS’ “Mission Unstoppable” team, will be the first Mexican-born woman to reach the final frontier.

In an Instagram post, Echazarreta said she looks forward to experiencing the Overview Effect, a broadening of perspective associated with viewing Earth from space. “I plan on coming back ready to continue changing the world,” she wrote.

Another crew member, Victor Correa Hespanha, will be the second Brazilian to fly in space and the first “cryptonaut.” His seat is sponsored by the Crypto Space Agency, which is funded entirely by the NFT community through mint proceeds. Hespanha won the trip in a lottery.

“My first dream is to become a soccer player,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “And the second one is to be an astronaut, because I have so many curiosities to explore in the universe.”

Evan Dick, an investor at Dick Holdings LLC, will be the first person to take a second flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital spaceship. He was one of the crew members for last December’s NS-19 mission, flying alongside the daughter of pioneering Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard.

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Amazon makes a huge deal for satellite launches

Amazon has secured as many as 83 launches on three types of heavy-lift rockets to put more than 1,500 satellites into low Earth orbit for its Project Kuiper broadband internet constellation over the course of five years.

If Amazon follows through on all the reservations announced today, the campaign would carry a multibillion-dollar price tag and arguably represent the space industry’s largest launch procurement for a single commercial project.

“Securing launch capacity from multiple providers has been a key part of our strategy from day one,” Rajeev Badyal, vice president of technology for Project Kuiper at Amazon, said today in a news release. “This approach reduces risk associated with launch vehicle stand-downs and supports competitive long-term pricing for Amazon, producing cost savings that we can pass on to our customers.”

Amazon’s Project Kuiper aims to offer satellite broadband internet service to tens of millions of people around the world who are currently underserved. The $10 billion project has been in the works for three years, and won the Federal Communications Commission’s go-ahead in 2020. But it’s considered far behind SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service, which is already available on a limited basis.

Like Starlink, Project Kuiper is headquartered in Redmond, Wash. More than 1,000 Amazon employees are currently working on Kuiper, and the project’s careers website lists more than 300 open positions.

Dave Limp, senior vice president for Amazon Devices & Services, said Project Kuiper is making good progress. “We still have lots of work ahead, but the team has continued to hit milestone after milestone across every aspect of our satellite system,” he said. “These launch agreements reflect our incredible commitment and belief in Project Kuiper, and we’re proud to be working with such an impressive lineup of partners to deliver on our mission.”

Twelve launch reservations have been made with Blue Origin, the Kent, Wash.-based space venture owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Those launches would use Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, which is closing in on a first launch in 2023 or later. Amazon also has an option to buy up to 15 additional New Glenn launches.

Amazon has reserved another 38 launches on United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket, which is due to have its first liftoff as early as this year. Those missions would be in addition to nine previously reserved launches on ULA’s existing Atlas V rockets.

New Glenn and Vulcan are designed to lift off from separate launch complexes at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

Arianespace has agreed to set aside 18 launches of its heavy-lift Ariane 6 rocket, which is due to make its debut as early as this year at the European consortium’s spaceport in French Guiana. Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël said the launch contract with Amazon is “the largest we’ve ever signed.”

The FCC license requires Amazon to launch at least half of its planned 3,236-satellite constellation by 2026, and today Amazon said its procurement plan should meet that schedule. That translates to more than 1,618 satellites, potentially launched by the nine Atlas V rockets and the rockets mentioned today.