Two years ago, Jeff Bezos’s company lost SpaceX’s race to replace obsolete space shuttles in NASA’s space programs. But now two competitors can become partners.
SpaceX is close to completing the reconstruction of the launch pad 39A - one of the two sites that were used by the Kennedy Space Center for the shuttle program from 1981 to 2011. The first launch of the ship of a private company from the site, originally designed for the American launch vehicle Saturn, is scheduled for spring 2016.
Blue Origin, owned by Jeff Bezos, challenged NASA’s decision to transfer the 39A site to competitors, but all the proceedings ended in failure. However, Blue Origin was given the launch pad of the Air Force base at Cape Canaveral, located slightly to the south. This site is numbered 36. Previously, it was used for numerous launches of Atlas carrier rockets from 1962 to 2005, including the launch of Mariner missions, the launch of the first spacecraft to other planets, and many military and communications satellites.
Blue Origin intends to launch its ship by the end of the decade. Blue Origin and SpaceX are also trying in parallel to create a system for landing a rocket on a marine barge. Both companies are developing technologies that will allow them to return the missiles after launch, rebuild and launch again.
"It is impossible to be a civilization of space explorers, if every time after use to throw a rocket," Bezos explained to journalists after the official announcement of Blue Origin plans. "From the point of view of physics, this is incredibly difficult. Enemy number one is gravity."
Among the small, but constantly growing, group of millionaires who want to invest in space is Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.
Bezos believes that "people who invest in this area, like me, do it from their hearts. This is their asceticism. They want to build rockets, they want to see the flights of humanity into space."
"Surely, in the space industry, people compete with each other, but I am also sure that a lot is being done at the behest of the heart, emotionally," Bezos added. "If my goal was to make money, I would just open up new eateries. It’s so much easier to make money."
In addition to the launch site, 36 Blue Origin will build test benches for BE-4 engines. It is expected that these engines will not only bring the Blue Origin ship into orbit, but will also surpass the competitor's engines. The United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, which was the monopolist of space launches in the United States before the advent of SpaceX, reached an agreement with Blue Origin that the BE-4 engine would be installed on the ULA Vulcan rocket.
Blue Origin plans to produce its rockets directly in Florida. According to Bezos, the assembly of the device in the immediate vicinity of the launch pad will make the procedure of preparing and transporting the rocket much more convenient. "It is logical to build a rocket where you are going to launch it from."
Production will be organized in an industrial park near the Kennedy Space Center. Additional details about the rocket Bezos promised to tell next year.
Blue Origin is also going to save the launch pad in West Texas, where the reusable spacecraft for the New Shepard suborbital flights is being tested. And the developed rocket, and "New Shepard" are intended for the transport of passengers and cargo.
"Our final goal is millions of people working and living in space. We have a long way to go!", Summarized Jeff Bezos.