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Article  How long will Jeff Bezos continue to subsidize New Shepard? (mothballed vehicles)

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EXCERPTS: Virgin Galactic smoothly completed its sixth human spaceflight in six months on Thursday, continuing an impressive cadence of missions with its VSS Unity spacecraft. This performance has made the company the clear leader in suborbital space tourism.

A key question is where this leaves the other company with a launch system capable of carrying private astronauts above the atmosphere: Blue Origin. That company's New Shepard rocket and spacecraft have been grounded since an engine failure nearly 14 months ago. During that uncrewed flight, the rocket broke apart, but the capsule safely parachuted to the West Texas desert.

[...] The company originally targeted an uncrewed return-to-flight mission in early October, two sources told Ars. ... However, October has come and gone. Asked when New Shepard will launch, a Blue Origin spokesperson told Ars, "We’re preparing for flight and plan to return later this year."

That is consistent with what some members of the Blue Origin team are now working toward. [...] It is too strong to characterize the New Shepard rocket and spacecraft as a vanity program for Blue Origin and its founder, Jeff Bezos. After all, the company has learned some valuable lessons about vertical landing and rocket reuse that it will apply to the much larger New Glenn rocket. However, after New Shepard gave Bezos his much-desired ride to space in 2021, it's worth contemplating the purpose of the program going forward.

[...] In December, a new chief executive will take the reins at Blue Origin, an Amazon veteran named Dave Limp, who has Bezos' trust. When he was hired, Bezos gave Limp a clear mandate: move faster. In particular, Bezos wants Blue Origin to deliver on the large New Glenn rocket and lunar lander for the Artemis Program. One way to cut costs and move faster would be to take the talented and experienced engineers on New Shepard and allocate them to the rocket and lander programs... (MORE - missing details)

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