Out of the Blue


BE-3 test fire. Credit: Blue Origin

Infamously close-mouthed Blue Origin (the Jeff Bezos company that’s not named Amazon) announced a successful full-mission-profile test of their BE3 rocket engine:

Blue Origin, the commercial space company bankrolled by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, plans to begin unmanned orbital flight tests of its biconic-shape human capsule in 2018. Ultimately, the company will use an orbital launch vehicle powered at least in part by a clean-sheet cryogenic engine it now has demonstrated can support suborbital human spaceflight.

But wait! There’s more:

The characteristically secretive Kent, Wash.-based startup unveiled new details about the BE-3 Dec. 3 in a rare and unusually informative question-and-answer session with Rob Meyerson, president and program manager…

In the test, the engine ran for 145 sec. at full throttle, then shut down for 4.5 min. to simulate the coasting phase that will take New Shepard out of the atmosphere. This was followed by a restart and throttle-down to the 25,000-lb.-thrust level it will need to bring the reusable booster back to Earth for a tail-down landing while the capsule parachutes home…

Work building up to the full-cycle BE-3 test in November was conducted over nine months and included 160 starts and 9,100 sec. of engine operation. “That equates to a test every two days, and sometimes actually three or four tests per day,” says Meyerson.

So yeah, they’ve been kinda busy. Can’t say I blame them for keeping a tight lid on things because it certainly makes announcements like this a little more attention-grabbing.

Blue Origin family portrait. Keep the dildo jokes to yourselves, pervs.

NewSpace is a great example of the good that comes from free markets: men who’ve already made substantial fortunes through internet innovations then plow those profits into the things they’re most passionate about. In turn, they will create entire new industries and expand our economy into the solar system. This is a multi-decade process with an entirely unknown end state, but I believe it’s key to preserving our Republic (not to mention a national intervention to rehab our crack-addled Uncle Sam).

Not because space exploration is inspiring, adventurous, unique, or dangerous (though it is all of those). It’s because the only thing humans can create from nothing is wealth. The ugly truth is we need the money, because that $17,000,000,000,000+ debt is an enormous overhang on our economy. And it isn’t going away anytime soon.

You know who got rich off of the gold rush? Certainly not the prospectors who gave up everything to pan for precious metals in the mountain West. Nope, it was all of the store owners and hoteliers and railroad men who showed up to provide all the stuff they needed. Infrastructure follows development, not the other way around.

Free people making their way in a previously untapped frontier will lead to all sorts of unexpected opportunities. Just watch and learn from these baby steps.

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