Blue Origin has pulled ahead in the suborbital space race with an unexpected, successful test flight of its New Shepard rocket.
It’s notable that Blue Origin continues to make progress despite being rejected by NASA’s Commercial Crew program. The mantra heard at the Space Frontier Foundation’s NewSpace conference says that the debate between government and commercial space is over — the only correct way to go into space is through “public-private partnerships.” This flight shows that the debate is, in fact, far from over and private enterprise should not be counted out.
The question now is how quickly Blue Origin can turn New Shepard around between flights. The key to low-cost operation is achieving a high flight rate. With luck, we will see many more flights of New Shepard beginning in the very near future.