Besides owning one of, if not the biggest online retailers in the world, Jeff Bezos also heads a space company called Blue Origin. While it might not be as big as, say, SpaceX, it has a couple of things going for it.
First is the fact that it's got Bezos at its helm. The second of which is potential funding from the U.S. military.
Last year, Blue Origin entered the running for a potential wave of funding to be given by the U.S. Air Force, rivaling other space companies both big and small, including the aforementioned SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and Orbital ATK. The Air Force is on the market for new orbital rockets for forthcoming missions, Spaceflight Now reports.
Blue Origin Will Get Even More Money
Blue Origin had already received military funding in the past, which was part of a bigger plan by the Air Force to choose more homegrown options for missions. Funding from the Air Force helped with the development of Blue Origin's BE-4 engine, which is still ongoing. This move was part of the Air Force's initiative to aid companies in developing new liquid-fueled U.S.-built booster engines so as to end the U.S. military's reliance on the RD-180 power plant in Russia.
All the other aforementioned space companies in the running, plus Aerojet Rocketdyne, have received funding from the Air Force as well. SpaceX took that money and built the Raptor engine, which will eventually be part of its forthcoming BFR launcher.
If it ends up winning, Blue Origin will have a new source of income to bankroll its planned New Glenn rocket. Similar to SpaceX's Falcon rockets, certain components of New Glenn will be reusable, but it will mostly be relegated to missions that don't go farther than the Earth's orbit.
Blue Origin dabbling into Air Force missions is a slight aberration from its original goal of making it possible for space exploration to become an opportunity for tourism. Jeff Bezos wants to make luxury space trips to space possible, allowing anyone with enough money to go into outer space and see Earth from way, way above.
Such goals differentiate it from SpaceX and Boeing, which are both adamant about more scientific goals, such as further space exploration. At the top of both their lists is being the first to reach Mars.
The Air Force will award at least three companies funding this summer. Then in late 2019, it will pick two companies for the final phase of the funding, which will include the development of launch services for payloads from the U.S. military.