Blue Origin has 11,000 employees
August 12, 2023
Jeff Bezos-backed rocket company, Blue Origin, now employs almost 11,000 staff according to The Wall Street Journal.
The business has multiple missions. There’s a space tourism portion, but the larger effort is looking at launching Amazon’s Project Kuiper broadband satellites into orbit.
A Blue Origin ‘New Shepard’ passenger carrying rocket launched Star Trek actor William Shatner and 5 co-passengers high above the Texas desert launch site to the edge of space.
The second business includes the New Glenn rocket variant and with a 7-metre wide faring is claimed to be able to carry twice the payload volume of any other commercial launch system. The various elements of the rocket are designed to be reuseable.
The problem, says the WSJ, is that the New Glenn rocket has yet to launch. A large number of the 11,000 employees are turning out rocket engines and components for the fleet of rockets needed for established projects. There are four booster elements currently in production.
Those established projects include the commitment to launch Project Kuiper satellites as well as a major NASA contract to build a lunar lander (‘Blue Moon’) in 2029.
These projects are pressing and few observers expect a promised Q4/2023 launch for New Glenn to happen on time. But the Project Kuiper team need to start launching their satellites sooner than later.
Amazon in April 2022 signed contracts with Arianespace and the United Launch Alliance, as well as its own Blue Origin, for a total of 83 launches which will place 3236 broadband satellites into orbit.
But first, the army of engineers and technicians must get New Glenn to its Florida launch pad. The WSJ says the company is now looking at 2024, but the newspaper’s headline sums up the dilemma saying “maybe”.
But Kuiper is on a strict deadline. The FCC requires half of the Kuiper satellites to be in obit durin 2026. That clock is ticking…