An Overview of Blue Origin’s Commercial Crew Milestones

Blue Origin’s pusher escape system rockets the New Shepard crew capsule away from the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)
Blue Origin’s pusher escape system rockets the New Shepard crew capsule away from the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

As one of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners, Blue Origin doesn’t get as much attention as Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX. That’s partly by design; the secretive company tries to fly under the radar as much as possible.

The other reason is that while Blue Origin received $25.38 million in funding for its orbital vehicle during the first two phases of Commercial Crew, it was not selected for the third round. The company has been working with NASA on an unfunded Space Act Agreement under which the space agency is providing support but not any funding.

To date, Blue Origin has completed 19 of 20 milestones under the three agreements with NASA. There has been significant progress on the pressure vessel, engine and escape system. The table below shows the company’s milestones under the agreements.

Blue Origin Space Act Agreements Milestones
Award Period: 2010 – 2014
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 19
Milestones Remaining: 1
Total Award: $25.38 million

NO.DESCRIPTIONORIGINAL DATE
STATUSAMOUNT
COMMERCIAL CREW DEVELOPMENT 1
A1Project Kickoff Meeting. A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the pusher escape system maturation plan.March 2010Complete$835,000
A21-DOF TVC Plan. Conduct test firing of full-scale demonstration SRM integrated with TVC system on 1-degree of freedom trust measurement stand.July 2010Complete$835,000
A36-DOF TVC Plan. Conduct test firing of full-scale demonstration SRM integrated with TVC system on 6-degree of freedom trust measurement stand.October 2010Complete$835,000
A4Rocket Sled Test. Conduct non-separating test of full CC OML and mass simulator on rocket sled track.March 2011Complete$0
B1Composite Pressure Vessel Maturation Kickoff Meeting.
A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the implementation plan.
March 2010Complete$290,000
B2Test Article Composite Parts Received. Receive all parts necessary to complete assembly of one composite pressure vessel, closing supplier risk.May 2010Complete$290,000
B3Test Article Assembly Complete. Completion of the test article.August 2010Complete$290,000
COMMERCIAL CREW DEVELOPMENT 2
1.1Space Vehicle Kickoff Meeting. A meeting at Blue Origin headquarters in Kent, WA to brief NASA personnel on the project implementation plan.May 2011Complete$905,000
1.2Space Vehicle Mission Concept Review. A review of the Space Vehicle Mission Concept. September 2011Complete$900,000
1.3Space Vehicle Systems Requirements Review. A review of systems requirements for the Space Vehicle. May 2012Complete$900,000
2.1Pusher Escape Kickoff Meeting. A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the pusher escape implementation plan.May 2011Complete$2,000,000
2.2Pusher Escape Vehicle #1 Shipment. Assembly of the first Pusher Escape Flight Test Vehicle is complete, except for installation of the pusher escape subsystem and separation mechanisms. Shipment to test range.December 2011Complete$2,000,000
2.3Pusher Escape Ground Firing.  Conduct an intial ground test of the pusher escape rocket motor and thrust vector control system to be used during the flight test campaign. January 2012Complete$3,000,000
2.6Escape Pad Escape Test. Conduct a test of one of the fight test vehicles simulating an escape from a booster on the launch pad.April 2012Complete$1,900,000
3.1Engine Kickoff Meeting. Meeting to brief NASA personnel on engine risk reduction implementation plan.May 2011Complete$3,400,000
3.2Engine TCA and Test Plan Review. Meeting to review test article interface data, Interface Control Diagram (ICD) and test plan.September 2011Complete$4,000,000
3.4Engine TCA Test. Conduct pressure-fed test of the full-scale thrust chamber assembly (TCA).May 2012Complete$3,000,000
UNFUNDED SPACE ACT AGREEMENT
3.6BE-3 Engine Test. Conduct a test firing of the pump-fed engine simulating a sub-scale booster suborbital mission duty cycle (MDC).September 2013Complete$0
3.7Subscale Prop Tank Assembly Review. Conduct a review of the design, manufacture and assembly of a subscale booster propellant tank. December 2013Complete$0
1.4Space Vehicle Subsystem Interim Design Review. Review space vehicle subsystem design progress with emphasis on power and actuation systems, in-space propulsion, multiplex avionics, flight mechanics and GN&C.March 2014Pending$0
 TOTAL: $25,380,000