Science & Technology

Jeff Bezos marks retirement of Blue Origin New Shepard space capsule with a tortoise

After seven launches, Blue Origin’s first New Shepard suborbital space capsule is getting a send-off from the corporate’s founder, Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos.

To have a good time final Thursday’s successful in-flight escape test in West Texas, Blue Origin’s crew stenciled “the seventh and remaining tortoise” onto the capsule’s hatch, Bezos said today in a tweet.

The tortoise serves because the mascot for Bezos’ space enterprise, apparently in reference to the race between the tortoise and the hare in Aesop’s Fables. “In the long term, deliberate and methodical wins the day,” Bezos defined final month in an e mail.

Bezos is certainly deliberate and methodical in relation to Blue Origin: The corporate moved alongside for 15 years earlier than sending its first suborbital rocket ship to outer space and again efficiently almost a yr in the past. Now it has 5 round-trip spaceflights (all uncrewed) underneath its belt, and it’s setting its sights on starting passenger service in 2018. Blue Origin additionally has plans for an orbital launch system referred to as New Glenn, and a good greater rocket referred to as New Armstrong for journeys past Earth orbit.

Along with the previous yr’s 5 spaceflights, the New Shepard capsule took a low-altitude journey throughout a launch-pad escape test in 2012, and a test flight that resulted in the loss of its booster in April 2015. Add up all these launches and also you get seven tortoises.

Now the New Shepard capsule in addition to the reusable booster (which has now survived 5 journeys to space and again) are being retired, and Blue Origin will use upgraded {hardware} for its subsequent check flight.

So the place will the previous {hardware} go? “We’ll actually discover a place for these autos to be seen by everyone,” Blue Origin launch commentator Ariane Cornell mentioned final week. To date, neither she nor anybody else at Blue Origin has been extra particular than that.

When Bezos funded the recovery of Saturn V rocket engine parts from the bottom of the Atlantic, the artifacts had been distributed to the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., in addition to to Seattle’s Museum of Flight. Doug King, the Museum of Flight’s president and CEO, mentioned throughout final week’s GeekWire Summit that he hoped the method would observe a related course this time round.

“They’ve been very open with all of the museum neighborhood,” King mentioned of the oldsters at Blue Origin. “We’re pleasant rivals with the Smithsonian, so in the event that they get one thing first, that doesn’t trouble us. However we wish one thing, too. We’re working very exhausting to inform the story, not simply of Blue Origin, however the whole future space story – a huge piece of which is correct right here in Seattle.”
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