Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to Build More Rockets Due to ‘Robust Demand’ But ‘Limited Supply’

by Josh Lanier

Blue Origin leaders believe there is a gap in the burgeoning space tourism market, and they have a plan to fill it. The Jeff Bezos-founded company plans to increase the number of its New Shephard rockets it has to send more millionaires into space.

Blue Origin was the first company to send civilians into space last year. Twenty-one people hopped a ride aboard one of three Blue Origin flights, including Bezos, actor William Shatner, and NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan. CEO Bob Smith, speaking at an FAA Commercial Space conference on Thursday said that number could “easily double” this year. Though, they’ll need to make more rockets to accomplish that goal.

“I think the challenge for Blue at this point is that we’re actually supply limited,” Smith said, according to CNBC.

It’s unclear how much it costs to buy a seat aboard one of Blue Origin’s flights. The company hasn’t disclosed that. Seats aboard the inaugural space flight, which Bezo was on in July, sold at auction for nearly $30 million. Smith said there are “thousands of people in the auction process” for future flights.

Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson’s space company, sells seats aboard its suborbital flights for $450,000. Those went on sale this week. Elon Musk’s SpaceX also has a space tourism business. Seats aboard the company’s first flight last year cost $55 million, Fortune reported.

The space tourism industry is set to lift off as competition between those companies heats up.

“We can see there’s very robust demand” for more New Shepard flights, Smith said.

SpaceX: Starship Will Make Other Rockets ‘Obsolete’

Last week, Elon Musk gave an update on one of SpaceX’s most ambitious projects yet. The Starship, the company’s massive, reusable, and refuelable spacecraft that Musk says will get humans to Mars and back — over and over again. And it will be cheaper than any rocket NASA can build.

The project has long been in development, but the tech billionaire says it will be worth the wait. In a press event last week at “Starbase,” the Texas headquarters of SpaceX, Musk said the Starship would orbit the planet within the year. It’s the first step in his plan to move humans to the Red Planet.

“It will work,” he declared. “There might be a few bumps along the way, but it will work.”

Though, it’s unclear if Elon Musk can accomplish these lofty goals. There are a lot of obstacles ahead, and Musk is famous for overpromising.

Last week, the FAA grounded a Starship test flight as the agency completes an environmental impact study. Though, once they can launch, SpaceX leaders believe the company will keep Musk’s promises and usher in the next era of rocketry.

“Once the new system’s reliability is demonstrated with a large number of flights, which could happen in a matter of months, it will obsolesce all existing launch systems,” said Rand Simberg, an aerospace engineer told Politico. “If (NASA’s Space Launch System) is not going to fly more than once every couple of years, it’s just not going to be a significant player in the future in space, particularly when Starship is flown.”