With his Blue Origin rocket company, Jeff Bezos continues working toward being able to offer one-hour Amazon Prime Now delivery to astronauts aboard the International Space Station. In recognition of this, the Heinlein Prize Trust has awarded the Heinlein Prize to Bezos for Blue Origin’s commercial space flight activity. The announcement on the Heinlein Prize website explains:
The Heinlein Prize honors the memory of Robert A. Heinlein®, a renowned American author. The purpose of the Heinlein Prize is to encourage and reward progress in commercial space activities that advances Robert and his wife Virginia’s dream of humanity’s future in space. In addition to the award, recipients receive a Lady Vivamus sword from Robert Heinlein’s novel, Glory Road.
While not so visible as Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which has been doing orbital launches with reusable rockets for a couple of years now and is coming up on being able to reuse one of the several rockets it’s recovered from recent launches, Blue Origin has been working its way up to manned suborbital launches like the original NASA Mercury program, successfully reusing an oddly-phallic-looking single-stage rocket with a six-person capsule on top. Neither Space X nor Blue Origin has actually launched any people into space yet, though Blue Origin plans on doing it within the next couple of years.
After launching several rockets privately, Blue Origin launched its first rocket on live streaming video a few days ago, and it was a really impressive sight. Since it wasn’t going all the way into orbit, the telescopic cameras were able to follow it all the way to its apogee about sixty miles up, and then all the way back down to both the rocket and the capsule’s safe descent.
It was pretty impressive, but nonetheless, this is the third Heinlein Prize awarded—the first one was made in 2006 to Dr. Peter Diamandis for the Ansari XPRIZE and SpaceShipOne, and the second one was in 2011 to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. While I’m sure Bezos is happy for the recognition, it must sting a little knowing that Elon Musk got there first.
(Found via File 770.)