Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is racing to pull his private space company out of start-up mode and go on a hiring spree, but the new rocket to compete with SpaceX may miss 2020 target launch.
Blue Origin is looking to double its current workforce to around 3,000 employees over the next two to three years, a top customer told Reuters. Blue Origins competitor SpaceX currently has 6000 – 7000 employees.
This news comes as Blue Origin is finalizing details on New Glenn’s design and are building model components that must be put through extreme testing. The New Glen will compete with SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy which is already operational, with its maiden launch on February 6, 2018, when the rocket carried a Tesla Roadster belonging to SpaceX founder Elon Musk, as a dummy payload.
Other rivals are United Launch Alliance, a partnership between Boeing Co and Lockheed Martin; France’s ArianeGroup, a joint venture between Airbus and Safran. Also, Japan and China are likewise designing reusable rockets.
Just as SpaceX, the New Glenn’s first-stage booster will be reusable. This is a key piece of Bezos’ strategy to lower costs and increase the frequency of launches. Blue Origin executives have stated publicly that test flights will begin within two years.
Blue Origin has privately acknowledged in conversations with French satellite firm Eutelsat SA – its first New Glenn customer – that its 2020 time frame is “very aggressive,” a person with direct knowledge of talks between the companies said.
The New Glen, heavy-launch vehicle, will be able to haul satellites and, eventually, people into orbit, is central to the company’s hopes of winning lucrative military and commercial contracts. With around 800 small satellites are expected to launch annually beginning around 2020. This will be more than double the annual average over the past decade.