Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, inspects New Shepard's West Texas launch facility before the rocket's maiden voyage. Credit: Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, inspects New Shepard’s West Texas launch facility before the rocket’s maiden voyage. Credit: Blue Origin

The entrepreneurial company Blue Origin is the winner of the Society’s 2016 Space Pioneer Award for Science and Engineering. This award recognizes the company’s two recent major achievements: (1) The first successful vertical landing by a large rocket which has reached space and carried a payload (an empty passenger capsule which descended separately by parachute). This flight by the New Shepard vehicle occurred on Nov. 23, 2015 at the company’s test range near the remote West Texas town of Van Horn. (2) Subsequently, the same rocket was flown again and performed a second perfect landing in January 2016, which constitutes the first re-use of a large rocket which has reached space. Creating reusable rockets has been the “holy grail” for many in the space industry for decades, and is a fundamental requirement for spaceflight to be inexpensive enough for general and large scale use.

Mr. Rob Meyerson, the company’s President, will accept the award in the name of Blue Origin on May 22 at the National Space Society’s 2016 International Space Development Conference® (isdc2016.nss.org). This will be the 35th ISDC and will be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino. The conference will run from May 18-22, 2016. NSS invites the public to attend ISDC and witness this award presentation.

About the Space Pioneer Award

NSS Space Pioneer AwardThe Space Pioneer Award consists of a silvery pewter Moon globe cast by the Baker Art Foundry in Placerville, California, from a sculpture originally created by Don Davis, the well-known space and astronomical artist. The globe, as shown at left, which represents multiple space mission destinations and goals, sits freely on a brass support with a wooden base and brass plaque, which are created by Michael Hall’s Studio Foundry of Driftwood, TX. NSS has several different categories under which the award is presented each year, starting in 1988. Some of the recent winners of Space Pioneer Awards include Elon Musk, Ray Bradbury, Robert Bigelow, citizen astronaut Anouseh Ansari, Dr. Kip Thorne, and the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta mission team.

About Blue Origin and Its Reusable Rocket Development Program

Blue Origin is a privately funded company set up by entrepreneur Jeff Bezos. It designed and built the single stage New Shepard rocket as a means of developing a reusable vehicle and to provide sub-orbital launch services for passengers. The company has about 400 employees at several locations. It intends to build a rocket manufacturing plant near Cape Canaveral in Florida and is developing a new methane and liquid oxygen fueled rocket engine, the BE-4, which will be used to power orbital rockets, including ones of its own design. The company’s name refers to the Blue Planet: Earth, the origin of humanity. It has a headquarters in Kent, Washington, near Seattle.

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