Pioneering the “Ignorosphere”

Photo Courtesy: Blue Origin

Samantha Stirmel/Staff Reporter

This past week, Blue Origin’s Dr. Erika Wagner presented on the Embry-Riddle campus enlightening students on Blue Origin, job opportunities and what to expect from the company in the future.

Dr. Wagner explained that Jeff Bezos believes that others should want humans to go far and not make space Plan B, but make space part of Plan A for the planet.

The growth rate for Blue Origin increases every day and pushes their drive even more in the technology sector. West Texas is where all the interesting launches happen so far, with New Shepard conducting test launches and experiments.

Down at Cape Canaveral, Blue Origin is working on their facility where they will be assembling and launching their upcoming rocket, New Glenn. Just like SpaceX, Blue Origin is involved in the launching, landing, and repeating the use of rockets.

Reusability is the foundation of Blue Origin. By bringing down the cost of rockets to the cost of fuel, it increases the feasibility of everyone having
access to go to space.

New Shepard flew a total of five times with the same rocket. On its last flight, Blue Origin wanted to go further into the unknown and had conducted an in-flight escape test of the capsule where they flew it up to about 20,000 feet and fired off the abort motor. The capsule ended up landing safely on the ground, and the rocket continued flying and landed safely as well.

To end on a good note, Blue Origin decided to retire the rocket, and it was on tour during the spring and into the summer of 2017, even visiting Oshkosh AirVenture in Wisconsin.

An important factor of the rocket is the fact that as soon as the hatch door closes, the emergency abort system is activated. This is to ensure that, even when sitting on the pad, the capsule provides an out for astronauts.

A portion of moving further into space tourism is limiting the amount of G’s that astronauts are pulling and moving it down to around two G’s. This is a load that any healthy human should be able to handle, and it does not require the stamina of a fighter pilot to be able to withstand it.

Dr. Wagner stresses that the rockets are not yet ready for humans in part because Blue Origin still needs to ensure the safety of the rocket which might take about 18 months.

Dr. Wagner was at ERAU because she attended a conference called the “R&D 100” where representatives of all industries come together
and collaborate on ideas.

Dr. Wagner explained that, when talking to them, she often heard “I don’t belong in spaceflight. I’m not NASA funded.” She argues that they’re not selling spaceflight, they are selling experiment space in microgravity.

When taking gravity out of the equation, it changes variables and can help innovate products, making them even more efficient.

Blue Origin is expanding spaceflight from just one industry to all of them. By taking out just one of the seats on their rocket, they have space to put lockers which Blue Origin sells to companies to fill with whatever experiment they desire.

Taking the guesswork out of having the resources to get to space allows for schools and companies who cannot send up their own rockets to test products and expand horizons.

Blue Origin launches most of its rockets into the portion of the atmosphere that they call the “Ignorosphere.”

Many spaceflight companies completely ignore it and do not spend much time there, but this area in the atmosphere is where the majority of upper atmosphere climate interactions happen.

New Glenn is a new breed of rocket. Because of the rocket measuring in at an astounding 313 feet in height and 23 feet in diameter in the three-stage configuration, it needs to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a newer and larger facility.

The grand plan is for it to be launched by 2020. The rocket has an especially large payload fairing that opens a wider range of possibilities for what the payloads can be.

Blue Origin is also looking at natural gases as an alternative to rocket fuel because it stops what is called “cooking.” It is also more functional than kerosene or helium, both of which are not renewable resources.

The first week of December is when Blue Origin will take full residency of the Cape Canaveral facility so they can begin the process of building
the New Glenn rocket.

Blue Origin has started signing launch contracts for satellites to plan for the future and cement usability for the New Glenn rocket.

A program titled “Blue Moon” was also mentioned. This project is Blue Origin’s concept of building a lunar lander for future use.

By putting Blue Moon on top of a NASA SLS rocket, Blue Origin hopes to increase useable cargo space and work with other companies to start pursuing their ultimate goal of working and living in space.