I was just sitting down to lunch when a coworker came up to me and asked, “Have you checked out Blue Origin’s web site recently?”
“Umm, no,” I responded.
“You should,” he responded. And I did, and you should, too: the company has provided a major new update on its web site, in the form of a public letter by Jeff Bezos (dated January 2), as well as some photos and videos of the November 13th first flight of Goddard, the first in a series of vehicles for its New Shepard suborbital vehicle. Some initial notes and analysis:
- The flight itself lasted about 30 seconds, a quick up-and-down flight to an altitude of 285 feet (87 meters). From the grainy video it appears the vehicle, which has a conical, almost capsule-like shape, has nine thrusters in the base, with five arrayed in a cross at the center and four closer to the edges, apparently to provide vectoring.
- This was not the first attempt to launch Goddard: an attempt a few days before was scrubbed because of winds, according to Bezos (they had reserved airspace with the FAA from November 10th through the 13th)
- There were a number of friends and family at the site for the test, and the company provided them with a Jumbotron to better see the launch, entertainment for the kids, and “delicious chuck wagon food”.
- Bezos said his only job at the test “was to open the champagne, and I broke the cork off in the bottle.”
- Bezos said that he has a slow, methodical approach to development: “We believe in incremental improvement and in keeping investments at a pace that’s sustainable. Slow and steady is the way to achieve results, and we do not kid ourselves into thinking this will get easier as we go along.”
- The company has a decidedly retro (think 19th, or even 18th or 17th century retro) logo, complete with turtles (a nod, perhaps, to their methodical approach) and the motto “Gradatim Ferociter”. I quick online check reveals that this means something to the effect of “step by step, with spirit”. I’m sure someone who actually knows Latin can come up with a more accurate and elegant translation…