January 3, 2007 5:21 PM PST

Bezos unleashes space rocket prototype

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After years of secrecy surrounding his space exploration venture, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is pumping up his aspirations with a first-generation suborbital space rocket and an open plea to hire aerospace engineers.

This week, Bezos updated Blue Origin's Web site, which previously held scant information on the company. Now it hosts an open letter asking for "hard-working, technically gifted" aerospace engineers or leaders to contact the Seattle-based company for a job.


Though not revealing all his company's plans, Bezos said Blue Origin officially tested on November 13 a prototype of its rocket, the New Shepard--named for Alan Shepard, the first U.S. astronaut in space. The rocket prototype, called Goddard, is a vertical takeoff and landing vehicle designed to take three astronauts on suborbital trips into space, Bezos said. The rocket is technically similar to a DC-X, or a Delta Clipper orbital launch vehicle developed by NASA, among others.

"We're working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go and so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system," Bezos wrote on the Web site.

Recognizing how hard that task is, Bezos said Blue Origin is making small, sustainable investments toward its goal, and the company needs fresh talent. Blue Origin is competing for aerospace experts against rivals like Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which aims to launch its suborbital tourist flights later this year.

Blue Origin has about 15 job openings listed on its site, including positions for a ground support systems engineer, propulsion development engineer, turbomachinery engineer, engineering analysis software developer, flight mechanics engineer and machinist.

Bezos, who founded Blue Origin in 2000, has said the company's hiring bar is "unabashedly extreme." The company's existing small team of engineers works in a newly renovated 280,000 square foot facility on 26 acres in Kent, Wash., a suburb of Seattle. The company also owns a testing complex on a ranch in remote western Texas.

According to previous reports, Bezos has already assembled a team of veteran rocket scientists who have worked on various aerospace and missile defense projects. For a long period, the company has maintained a bare-bones Web site simply containing a mission statement to "help enable an enduring human presence in space."

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Good luck on that.
But unless The US Gov. loosens restrictions that prevent non-american citizens to work on these [missile related] projects, there will remain a shortage of top notch personal to hire.
Hate to say it, but they could use overseas help on this one. Russia comes to mind...
Posted by Marcus Westrup (630 comments )
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"But unless The US Gov. loosens...
... restrictions that prevent non-american citizens to work on these [missile related] projects, there will remain a shortage of top notch personal to hire..."; Hmmmm... how about the establishment of "training facilities" to train more U.S. Citizens to make up for any anticipated shortages! At least they would already have been American culturized!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
Rocket Engineers
Not to disrespect American-born and trained Aero engineers (being
one myself), but if it had not been for a certain group of Germans
"invited" into the U.S. after WW II, we would have had a harder time
getting to the moon back in the 60s. The Russians benefitted from
that source of talent, too.

Best of luck to Jeff Bezos and others trying to make a private
industry success in space.
Posted by billmosby (536 comments )
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True But....
To America's credit, Von Braun chose to surrender to the U.S. over Russia, and came here to complete most of the work that actually made the V2 the first rocket to carry animals into space.

Germany couldn't hold the talent long enough to get to space... and the engineers chose to bring their creation to the US rather than let Russia have it.

Besides, the German rocket program was essentially staffed with slaves... which deserves little to no respect in my opinion. America liberated the "slaves" and the engineers moved to America to create a space program. America absolutely deserves credit here... but yes, technically, we can divvy up the credit to plenty of people who studied and worked with rocketry, chemistry, ballistics, metalurgy, and explosives...
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Underpaid Engineers
Why become a "Rocket Scientist" when you're average intelligent person can make way more money as a doctor or a lawyer here in the states. Thats the real reason we have a lack of technical / engineering talent, if you're really smart you do something else.
Posted by daver208 (26 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Remember The "American" Idols Too!
"Why become a "Rocket Scientist" when you're average intelligent person can make way more money as a doctor or a lawyer here in the states..."; I am somewhat in agreement with you on this point; but, the big question one may wish to ask is why not make a "decent toy" of the CONCORDE before venturing into outer space. I am quite sure that the newly rich millionaire doctors, lawyers and "American Idols" can afford to pay for the services of that of the "Rocket Scientist" and other engineering expertise needed to make their travel "quieter"!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
1) The sight of blood sucks, and being that close to death and disease on a daily basis is depressing (doctors)
2) Defending (or suing on behalf of) human scum and/or making a living off of personal or corporate drama is beneath my moral code (lawyers)

The happiest people alive don't pursue a career for mere money - in fact doing that is often a way to insure that you become an unhappy person. People who are truly happy pursue that which they love to do - nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Government drags it's feet
The reason why we havn't had any affordable smaller space craft developed by NASA which I think they could have developed one by now, is that NASA is govern heavily by Washington and in a sense, the Government wants to control space flight.

They don't want the average person to be able to go into space any time they want like in the movies (which is many years away from SciFi TV reality).

Billions of dollars are poured into projects that never materialize or are finished, billions of dollars are wasted into all kinds of black projects the average person hasn't a clue on.

Maybe the Democratic majority that won the House back and the Senate will change the current (Republican) leadership, as there is too much Religion intertwined into the current administration.

Seperation of Church and State, what about, Seperation of Chuch and Washington D.C. (white House), (Senate)..... ? or does that not cover them as well ?
Posted by RompStar_420 (772 comments )
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Off basis
This is not a partisan issue, or any type of flawed implementation that democratic leadership can magically resolve. Injecting politics into the discussion is hardly going to generate worthwhile discussion.

The bottom line, is that private industry does things more efficiently than government organizations - almost always, regardless of which party is leading. Washington does not want to "control space flight" as you suggest. They are simply the first legitimate organization that was willing to dedicate the necessary resources to create a space program when space research and development was not profitable.

Private industry has finally joined the game, because it is now possible to develop a profitable business plan for such ventures. Private industry will have failures and successes in this industry, but it almost goes without saying that it will be more efficient than government efforts.

Not to launch a political debate, but since you seem to favor Democratic leadership, is should be noted that allowing private industry to enter into and succeed in such ventures is more of a republican perspective... whilst the Democrats would (if they were at all interested in the space program) want the government/Nasa to have more control.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
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