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Jeff Bezos shares 114-second rocket engine video

Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine is an essential part of Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ vision of getting millions of people living and working in space, so he’s anxious to show it works.

But not anxious enough to cut corners. The video he shared today on Twitter and Instagram shows a work in progress: a test firing of the methane-fueled BE-4 at Blue Origin’s facilities in West Texas, with the power dialed down to 65 percent of maximum and the blast limited to 114 seconds.

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Blue Origin strikes deal to launch Japan satellites

Blue Origin and Sky Perfect JSAT executives
Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith and founder Jeff Bezos meet with Sky Perfect JSAT CEO Shinji Takada and other executives. (Blue Origin Photo via Twitter)

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, says it has signed up Japan’s Sky Perfect JSAT for a satellite launch to geostationary orbit in the 2020s.

Today’s announcement of the deal was timed to coincide with the Satellite 2018 conference in Washington, D.C., one of the year’s top events for satellite operators and launch providers.

In its tweet, Blue Origin didn’t provide much detail about the deal, such as the pricing or the timing for the launch. But the agreement involves sending up a yet-to-be-named Sky Perfect JSAT satellite on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, which is currently under development.

Blue Origin is targeting 2020 for the first launch of New Glenn — which is named after the late senator-astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth.

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Blue Origin ramps up Florida rocket facility

Propellant tanks
Tanks for liquid oxygen and liquefied natural gas, the propellants to be used by Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket, are lined up at Launch Complex 36 in Florida. (Blue Origin Photo via Twitter)

Blue Origin hasn’t put up the “Grand Opening” sign yet, but there’s clearly business going on at the Florida rocket facilities built by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture.

The latest sign came today, when Blue Origin tweeted out a picture of propellant tanks being delivered to Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is destined to host Blue Origin’s orbital-class New Glenn rocket.

“Starting to look more and more like a launch pad!” the tweet read.

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Blue Origin announces Mu satellite launch deal

New Glenn rocket
An artist’s conception shows the New Glenn rocket during ascent. (Blue Origin Photo)

Blue Origin, the space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, announced yet another agreement to launch a telecommunications satellite with its next-generation New Glenn rocket in the 2020s.

The latest customer is Mu Space Corp., a Thai startup that unveiled its plans for terrestrial and satellite-based broadband data services (plus space tourism) in the Asia-Pacific region just last month.

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Jeff Bezos says BE-4 rocket test went awry

BE-4 rocket engine testing
In a photo from March 2017, the BE-4 rocket engine’s powerpack is installed on a stand at Blue Origin’s West Texas proving ground for startup transient testing. (Blue Origin Photo)

In a rare update, the Blue Origin space venture founded by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos reported that it lost a set of powerpack test hardware for its BE-4 rocket engine over the weekend, but added that such a setback is “not unusual” during development.

“That’s why we always set up our development programs to be hardware-rich,” the company tweeted today. “Back into testing soon.”

Blue Origin is headquartered in Kent, Wash., but the BE-4 is being tested at its facility in West Texas, on ranchland owned by Bezos. The powerpack is the heart of a rocket engine, pumping fuel and oxidizer to the engine’s combustion chamber.

The current round of engine testing is key to the company’s fortunes: Blue Origin is planning to use the BE-4, which is powered by liquefied natural gas, on its own New Glenn orbital-class rocket. Blue Origin already has started lining up satellite customers for the New Glenn.

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Get a peek at Blue Origin’s lunar lander

Blue Moon lander
Blue Origip President Rob Meyerson shows off a concept for the Blue Moon lunar lander during a session at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Other panelists include Jonathan Arenberg, chief systems engineer for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope; former astronaut John Grunsfeld; and Mary Lynne Dittmar of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Blue Origin, the space venture backed by Amazon billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos, is providing a first look at the design for the Blue Moon lander it wants to use for deliveries to the lunar surface in the 2020s.

It’s been more than a month since Blue Origin’s plan for sending payloads to the moon for a permanent settlement came to light – but the company’s president, Rob Meyerson, lifted a veil a bit higher by showing off an artist’s conception of the lander here at the 33rd Space Symposium.

As the four-legged lander design was displayed on screen, Meyerson told the crowd that the spacecraft could be launched on NASA’s own heavy-lift Space Launch System rocket, or SLS, which is currently under development. It could also go on United Launch Alliance’s existing Atlas 5 rocket, or on Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket – which is due to start flying by 2020.

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Blue Origin’s first launch customer: Eutelsat

Jeff Bezos and Rodolphe Belmer
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon as well as the Blue Origin space venture, takes the stage with Eutelsat CEO Rodolphe Belmer. (GeekWire Photo / Alan Boyle)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos revealed satellite operator Eutelsat as the first paying customer for his Blue Origin space venture’s New Glenn orbital rocket, and showed off a new animation depicting the rocket taking off, delivering a satellite to orbit and landing on a barge at sea.

Bezos and the chairman of this week’s Satellite 2017 conference, Jeffrey Hill, brought the Paris-based satellite operator’s CEO, Rodolphe Belmer, on stage as a surprise guest during today’s keynote chat.

“We couldn’t hope for a better first partner,” Bezos said.

In a news release, Eutelsat said the first payload would be a geostationary satellite, to be launched in the 2021-2022 time frame.

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Blue Origin proposes moon delivery in 2020

Image: Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos shows off the concept for Blue Origin’s launch system during a 2015 news conference in Florida. The rocket could reportedly be adapted for moon missions. (Blue Origin photo)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture has reportedly proposed sending a robotic lander to the moon’s south polar region by 2020, as an initial step toward an “Amazon-like” lunar delivery system and eventually a permanently inhabited moon base.

Blue Origin’s white paper is described in a report from The Washington Post, which is owned by Bezos.

The Post says the company’s seven-page proposal, dated Jan. 4, has been circulating among NASA’s leadership and President Donald Trump’s transition team. It’s only one of several proposals aimed at turning the focus of exploration beyond Earth orbit to the moon and its environs during Trump’s term.

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Jeff Bezos previews his Florida rocket factory

Blue Origin site
The steel structure for Blue Origin’s factory rises from a Florida site. (Blue Origin Photo via Jeff Bezos)

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos is showing off the “extraordinary progress” being made on the Florida factory where Blue Origin’s New Glenn orbital launch vehicle will be built.

“As you can see here, the first steel is now going up,” he wrote today in an email update, accompanied by a picture showing a lattice of girders rising from the construction site near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The 750,000-square-foot facility is due to open by the end of 2017 and produce New Glenn rockets for Blue Origin’s orbital missions. Test flights are expected to begin by the end of the decade, lifting off from Launch Complex 36 under the terms of a lease from Space Florida.

Meanwhile, Bezos’ Blue Origin venture is also proceeding with its New Shepard suborbital space program. The first full-fledged New Shepard rocket ship was retired after making five successful test flights to the edge of outer space and back.

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New Glenn rocket aces wind tunnel tests

New Glenn model
This model of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket was put through wind tunnel testing. (Credit: Jeff Bezos via Twitter)

GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket isn’t due to go into orbit until later this decade, but its design has already been validated by computer simulations and three weeks of wind tunnel testing.

That’s the word from Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, who founded Blue Origin 16 years ago this month. In a pair of tweets, Bezos showed off a scaled-down version of the New Glenn, which will tower 313 feet high in its three-stage version.

The pictures follow up on Bezos’ unveiling of the design earlier this month. Bezos said the model has been tested at transonic and supersonic speeds, with “exciting results.”

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