It seems Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos is nearing achievement of his vision — bringing more people to space as the company secures a major suborbital flight contract from NASA.
NASA announced on June 3 that Blue Origin, LLC was chosen to participate in the Flight Opportunities Program (FOP) of the agency. The contract would allow Blue Origin to use the New Shepard suborbital spacecraft to bring technology payloads close to the space boundary. The said spacecraft is scheduled to crash-land on purpose to demonstrate its ability to handle emergency scenarios.
Blue Origin will be the sixth company added along with other companies currently under contract with the agency including World View Enterprises, Inc.; UP Aerospace, Inc.; Masten Space Systems, Inc.; Virgin Galactic, LLC; and Near Space Corporation.
The contract has a combined value of not more than $45 million and will be under the Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicle (sRLV) Flight and Payload Integration Services.
Beginning June 1, Blue Origin needs to vie for task orders that would fly out payloads and provide flight services. The completion of orders must be carried out within the three-year contract period. The awarded contract is part of the 2014 and 2015 series of contracts for flight systems to provide commercial capabilities.
"We are pleased to have Blue Origin join our cadre of Flight Opportunities service providers," NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) associate administrator Steve Jurczyk said. He also said that adding more players in the field will allow better technology demonstrations and ultimately lower the cost.
STMD chooses high potential technologies from the academe, industry and government and applies them on commercial space flight systems. More vendors willing to participate would be given opportunities to introduce their flight systems provided they meet the government's requirements.
Blue Origin also made an announcement via its Twitter account:
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) June 2, 2016
Currently, Blue Origin is developing its rocket manufacturing facility and is also in the running of producing BE-4 rocket engines.