11 thoughts on “It Always Takes Longer Than You Think”

  1. I don’t even understand the point of their secrecy. Unless they’re doing stuff that’s illegal, how does it help them? Do they really think they’ve reinvented the wheel when it comes to rocket design?

  2. My theory is that they desire to not be ridiculed for ones failures. Look at the bad press spacex got for its first three launch attempts.

    Blueorgin has taken an extreme secrecy position, at one time they even disguised their locations with false labels on google maps. It appears to be correct now. (I had 3 hours to kill waiting for a plane in Seattle and tried to drive by and look at their facility)

  3. I think they just want to avoid having to justify and explain themselves to everyone for everything they are doing. It is also bad for customer confidence to know that say n launch attempts ended with a total loss of vehicle (just as an example) or another accident that could have been fatal for a crew. Of course by the time they do commercial flights these kinks would be sorted out, but I am sure that (like Armadillo and Space X too) there will be several accidents that will result in total destruction of the vehicle.

  4. Paul, when did you go to the Blue Origin facility? It could be google maps was still listing their old location at “13 South Nevada Street, Seattle”.

  5. I interviewed there a couple of years ago; can’t say much about it because I had to sign an NDA, though. I can say that I’m not surprised their notional schedule has slipped; they’re trying to do a lot with a very, very small team. I was reasonably impressed with their engineers; they had a not-too-surprising mix of some really smart and experienced people and some smart and really inexperienced people. I was not a fan of their interviewing technique – too much “can you do these toy problems” stuff taking up time that would have been better spent talking about concrete ways I could help them. It’s a nice work environment, and the steampunk Columbiad has to be seen to be believed. Could have been interesting work, but (a) where I live beats Seattle all to hell; (b) I’ve discovered over the years that I prefer working on aircraft instead of spacecraft; and (c) the compensation just wasn’t revolutionary enough.

    I think they will eventually succeed, but I confess I don’t see the point to their secrecy either. I think they would benefit from open discussion of their plans. But I’m not expecting them to change anytime soon.

  6. On the subject of the link to John Goff’s speculation on the SpaceX mysteries surrounding upper stage recovery, follow the link to see the SpaceX upper stage schematic, and compare it to the Russian Shkval torpedo.

    Just maybe…
    The forward tanks are propellant tanks for a rocket that will fire into the hypersonic flow at re-entry. This will create a supercavitating bubble, just like in the Russian Shkval torpedo. The four fins on the aft of the stage will then indeed be useful for re-entry guidance. The fins will be able to move against the envelope of the supercavitation bubble to provide control authority. The spent stage will decelerate through the atmosphere until subsonic speeds are reached. The fins will then have full utility as control surfaces. The big question still unanswered is how SpaceX plans to slow the stage for final splashdown or aerial capture. ( conventional parachute recovery is likely, as indicated before and verbally confirmed by Elon Musk )

  7. So, what is the red diamond shaped area between the mystery tanks under the heat shield?

    Combustion chamber for an APU? When I see red, I think hot. When you look into the red area up close there looks like there is a shaft with a conical end housed in a black (compressor) area.

    Is the black pipe running along the bottom of the stage an umbilical to the payload/capsule? Or, is it part of the wiring harness that would come from the APU to the areas marked in green which all seem to be in proximity to the alleged control surfaces. An APU could provide current to powerful servo motors that adjust the attitude of the aerodynamic control surfaces. At supersonic reentry speeds the control surfaces could be fully extended to turn the stage into a shuttle cock.

  8. The thing to remember here is that Bezos is CEO of Amazon. He can’t appear to have a distraction from that role. By hiding Blue Origin, he keeps that from becoming an issue. Nobody can then say “You’re spending too much time on rockets rather than Amazon.” even if he is.

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