The battle of space billionaires intensifies another march when Jeff Bezos launches cash & # 039; in Blue Origin

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is competing to get his private space company out of commissioning mode and into production amid signs that his company's heavy rocket to take off in 2020 could be delayed.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is competing to get his private space company out of commissioning mode and into production amid signs that his company's heavy rocket to take off in 2020 could be delayed, according to people familiar with the project. .

Blue Origin has added hundreds of engineers over the past three years and continues to grow in an expansion that an employee described as "hyperbolic."

The Kent-based company, Washington, is looking to double its current workforce to around 3,000 employees in the next two or three years, a leading client told Reuters.

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Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is competing to get his private space company out of commissioning mode and into production amid signs that his company's heavy rocket to take off in 2020 could be delayed.

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is competing to get his private space company out of commissioning mode and into production amid signs that his company's heavy rocket to take off in 2020 could be delayed.

The urgency is centered on a rocket nicknamed New Glenn.

The heavy launch vehicle, which Bezos promises will be able to transport satellites and, eventually, put people in orbit, is fundamental to the company's hopes of obtaining lucrative military and commercial contracts.

The reinforcement of the first stage of New Glenn will be reusable, a key piece of the Bezos strategy to reduce costs and increase the frequency of launches. Blue Origin executives have publicly stated that test flights will begin within two years.

But it remains to be seen if Blue Origin can reach that mark.

With time running in 2020, the company's engineers are still finalizing the design details of New Glenn and are beginning to build model components that must undergo extreme testing, people familiar with the project said.

They requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak in public.

Blue Origin has privately acknowledged in talks with French satellite firm Eutelsat SA, its first New Glenn customer, that its 2020 term is "very aggressive", said one person with direct knowledge of the conversations between the two companies. companies

The firms have completed their contract, which covers the launch of a geostationary satellite in the period 2021-2022, so Blue Origin will not incur penalties if it is late, the person added.

Yohann Leroy, executive vice president of Eutelsat, declined to discuss the details of his company's contract with Blue Origin, but said he was optimistic New Glenn would be ready to carry his signature satellite by the end of 2022.

"Of course, I can not guarantee that they will respect their initial timeline, but we are sure they will not be too far away from that," Leroy said.

A Blue Origin spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment on the company's hiring practices, strategy or competitive challenges.

The private firm has remained firm in the production status of New Glenn and plans to bring it to the market.

Mounting a successful test in 2020 would give Blue Origin the best chance to fend off rival and new rockets that are expected to enter the market in the next few years, analysts said.

Rivals include the United Launch Alliance aerospace fans, a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin; and the French ArianeGroup, a joint venture between Airbus and Safran. Japan and China are also designing reusable rockets.

But 18 years after its founding, Blue Origin has found itself behind a competitor closest to its home: SpaceX.

Blue Origin has privately acknowledged in talks with French satellite firm Eutelsat SA, its first New Glenn customer, that its 2020 term is "very aggressive", said one person with direct knowledge of the conversations between the two companies. companies

Blue Origin has privately acknowledged in talks with French satellite firm Eutelsat SA, its first New Glenn customer, that its 2020 term is "very aggressive", said one person with direct knowledge of the conversations between the two companies. companies

Blue Origin has privately acknowledged in talks with French satellite firm Eutelsat SA, its first New Glenn customer, that its 2020 term is "very aggressive", said one person with direct knowledge of the conversations between the two companies. companies

WHO IS JEFF BEZOS?

Jeff Bezos is best known as the founder and CEO of the online giant Amazon.

Born in New Mexico and raised in Houston, Texas, he attended the prestigious Princeton University and graduated in 1986.

After a decade of work on Wall Street, Bezos founded his own company in 1994.

Jeff Bezos was born in 1964 and is founder and CEO of Amazon. He is also the richest person in the world

Jeff Bezos was born in 1964 and is founder and CEO of Amazon. He is also the richest person in the world

Jeff Bezos was born in 1964 and is founder and CEO of Amazon. He is also the richest person in the world

He initially called his company, Cadabra, and reportedly changed the name to Amazon when a colleague misunderstood him as & # 39; corpse & # 39 ;.

Initially, it was launched as an online book store that operated in Bezo's garage in Seattle, but quickly grew to include a variety of products and services.

Now, Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world and the most successful website in the world.

In 2018, the company is worth around $ 900 (£ 691 billion).

Mr. Bezos himself has an estimated net worth of $ 150 billion (£ 115 billion).

He has purchased and accumulated a variety of different companies and points of sale, including: Whole Foods, The Washington Post, Twitch and IMDB.

He has a controlling stake of 17 percent in his first company, Amazon.

In 2017, Jeff Bezos surpassed Bill Gates to become the richest person in the world and the richest person in the modern world.

He has been married since 1994 and has four children.

Founded by Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk, the Hawthorne, Calif.-based company has revolutionized the space industry with its low-cost, reusable Falcon 9 rockets.

SpaceX has completed more than 50 successful Falcon releases and obtained billions of dollars in contracts, including agreements with NASA and the US Department of Defense. UU

SpaceX in February caught a worldwide audience with the successful test launch of its newest rocket, the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world.

Musk had predicted the "end of the game" for other heavy rocket manufacturers if their launch was successful.

Bezos promises that the heavy launch vehicle will be able to transport satellites and, eventually, people in orbit

Bezos promises that the heavy launch vehicle will be able to transport satellites and, eventually, people in orbit

Bezos promises that the heavy launch vehicle will be able to transport satellites and, eventually, people in orbit

The good news for Blue Origin is that the demand for satellite launch services will skyrocket.

About 800 small satellites are expected to launch annually after 2020, more than twice the annual average in the last decade, according to Marco Cáceres, senior space analyst at Fairfax, Teal Group, based in Virginia.

"If New Glenn can be ready in the next two years (Blue Origin) can take advantage of that opportunity," he said.

ROCKET SCIENCE

Like Musk, Bezos is passionate about the possibility of humans living and working in space.

Now, the richest man in the world, thanks to the success of online retailer Amazon, Bezos has been liquidating $ 1 billion of its shares annually to fund its interplanetary dreams.

He installed Blue Origin in a warehouse about 20 miles (32 km) south of Seattle. The company's Latin motto means "step by step fiercely", a reference to Bezos' belief that success is achieved through steady and progressive progress.

But after nearly two decades, and with the private space race warming up, Bezos is trying to get closer to commercialization, three Blue Origin employees told Reuters.

Part of those efforts include the sale of tourist trips to the edge of space aboard another Blue Origin rocket called New Shepard, with ticket prices in the range of $ 200,000 to $ 300,000.

Blue Origin is also competing to supply its BE-4 engine to the United Launch Alliance to power its next Vulcan rocket, ULA said.

The recent hiring binge has focused mainly on launching talent at New Glenn, and has included more than 60 engineers who previously worked for SpaceX.

THE BILLIONAIRE SPACE RACE: THE DETAILS

Jeff Bezos in front of the Blue Origin space capsule

Jeff Bezos in front of the Blue Origin space capsule

Jeff Bezos in front of the Blue Origin space capsule

Jeff Bezos' space tourism project with Blue Origin is competing with a similar program under development by Space X, the rocket firm founded and led by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic, backed by Richard Branson.

Bezos revealed in April 2017 that he funds Blue Origin with around $ 1 billion (£ 720 million) of Amazon shares each year.

The system consists of a crew capsule pressurized on a reusable "New Shepard" booster rocket.

The richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos is chasing Blue Origin with vigor as he tries to launch his rocket – New Glenn & # 39; in low Earth orbit by 2020.

While Bezos has not yet left the atmosphere of Earth, despite several successful launches, Elon Musk's SpaceX program has already sent the Falcon Heavy rocket into space.

On February 6, 2018, SpaceX sent the rocket into the orbit of Mars, 140 million miles away.

On board was a red Tesla roadster that belonged to Musk himself.

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

Elon Musk with his Dragon Crew capsule

SpaceX has won several multi-million dollar contracts from NASA as the space agency hopes to use the rockets as a fast track for its colonization of the red planet.

Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic recently conducted a test flight of Virgin Galactic's Unity space plane.

The flight accelerated to more than 1,400 miles per hour (Mach 1.87).

Calling the space "tantalizingly close", Branson also said last year that suborbital space on test flights could be happening this spring.

To date, more than 700 prosperous clients, including celebrities Brad Pitt and Katy Perry, have reserved a seat of $ 250,000 (£ 200,000) on one of Virgin's space trips,

The billionaire tycoon also said he expects Elon Musk to win the race to Mars with his space rocket SpaceX.

Richard Branson with the craftsmanship of Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson with the craftsmanship of Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson with the craftsmanship of Virgin Galactic

SpaceShipTwo will carry six passengers and two pilots. Each passenger gets the same seating position with two large windows, one on one side and one on top.

The spacecraft is 60 feet long with a 90-inch diameter cockpit that allows maximum space for astronauts to float in zero gravity.

A climb to 50,000 feet before the rocket motor ignites. Passengers become & # 39; astronauts & # 39; when they reach the Karman line, the limit of the Earth's atmosphere, at which point SpaceShipTwo is separated from its transport aircraft, White Knight II.

The spacecraft will make a suborbital trip with approximately six minutes of weightlessness, and the entire flight will last approximately 3.5 hours.

Blue Origin's workforce of more than 1,500 has more than doubled from its early 2016 levels, said three employees. Their ranks are expected to double by the time New Glenn is flying, said Leroy of Eutelsat. In comparison, SpaceX has more than 6,000 employees.

Bezos' company has also invested more than $ 200 million in a rocket-manufacturing facility near NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Still, Leroy said he expects to see a New Glenn prototype not before mid-2019.

Meanwhile, NASA, the US Air Force. UU And the satellite companies are directing their business to SpaceX.

Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium Communications Inc, based in McLean, Virginia, SpaceX's largest commercial client, told Reuters that Blue Origin "has been a little less clear" about its strategy.

"No one disputes that with the investment they are making, they will ultimately not succeed, but how and when they become reliable is still uncertain," Desch said.

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