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Kent, WA, United States

Blue Origin is a privately funded aerospace company set up by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The company is developing technologies to enable private human access to space with the goal of dramatically lower cost and increased reliability. It is employing an incremental approach from suborbital to orbital flight, with each developmental step building on its prior work. The company motto is "Gradatim Ferociter", Latin for "Step-by-Step, Ferociously". Blue is developing a variety of technologies, with a focus on rocket-powered Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing vehicles for access to suborbital and orbital space.Initially focused on sub-orbital spaceflight, the company has built and flown a testbed of its New Shepard spacecraft design at their Culberson County, Texas facility. According to company statements, it initially planned on placing the New Shepard in commercial suborbital tourist service in 2010 with flights about once a week. In 2008 the publicized timetable stated that Blue Origin will fly unmanned in 2011, and manned in 2012. As of 2013, the company website makes no statements about the date of its first flights.Late 2014 public announcements, and a contractual agreement to build a new rocket engine for major US launch system operator United Launch Alliance, have put Blue Origin into the middle of the orbital spaceflight technology business, as a rocket engine supplier. Wikipedia.


Vehicles with bidirectional control surfaces and associated systems and methods are disclosed. In a particular embodiment, a rocket can include a plurality of bidirectional control surfaces positioned toward an aft portion of the rocket. In this embodiment, the bidirectional control surfaces can be operable to control the orientation and/or flight path of the rocket during both ascent, in a nose-first orientation, and descent, in a tail-first orientation for, e.g., a tail-down landing.


Eyeball seals for a gimbaled rocket engines, and associated systems and methods are disclosed. A system in accordance with a particular embodiment includes a rocket body, an engine carried by and movable relative to the rocket body, and a seal assembly. The seal assembly can include a sealing surface carried by one of the rocket body and the engine, and a seal element carried by the other of the rocket body and the engine. The seal element is in contact with the sealing surface. The seal assembly can further include a cylinder and a piston slideably received in the cylinder, with one of the piston and the cylinder carrying the seal element. The cylinder includes ports that are in fluid communication with a region external to the rocket body. Accordingly, pressures external to the rocket body can force the seal element and/or the sealing surface into contact with each other.


Launch vehicles with ring-shaped external elements, and associated systems and methods are disclosed. An aerospace system in accordance with a particular embodiment includes a launch vehicle having a first end and a second end generally opposite the first end, with the launch vehicle being elongated along a vehicle axis extending between the first and second ends, and having an external, outwardly facing surface. The system can further include an annular element carried by the launch vehicle, the annular element having an external, inwardly-facing surface radially spaced apart from, and extending at least partially circumferentially around, the vehicle axis. The annular element can have a first edge surface facing a first direction along the vehicle axis, and a second edge surface facing a second direction along the vehicle axis, the second direction being opposite the first direction. A propulsion system can be carried by the launch vehicle, and can have at least one nozzle positioned toward the first end of the vehicle to launch the vehicle. A controller can be in communication with the launch vehicle and programmed to direct the vehicle in the first direction during vehicle ascent, and in the second direction during vehicle descent.


Launch vehicles with fixed and deployable deceleration surfaces and associated systems and methods are disclosed. A system in accordance with a particular embodiment includes a launch vehicle that has a first end and a second end generally opposite the first end, and is elongated along a vehicle axis extending between the first and second ends. The vehicle carries an exposed outwardly facing surface having a first region positioned or positionable to have a first cross-sectional area generally normal to the vehicle axis toward the first end of the vehicle, and a second region positioned or positionable to have a second cross-sectional area generally normal to the vehicle axis toward the second end of the vehicle. The first cross-sectional area is less than the second cross-sectional area. The system can further include a propulsion system carried by the launch vehicle and having at least one nozzle positioned toward the first end of the vehicle to launch the launch vehicle. In a further particular embodiment, the exposed surface can include a deployable flare surface that is positioned toward the forward section of the vehicle and is stowed during an ascent phase of the vehicle. During descent, the deployable flare surface can pivot outwardly to slow the vehicle down for a tail-down landing. Systems is accordance with other embodiments include launch vehicles with fuel tanks shaped to control the motion of the center of gravity of fuel in the tanks as the fuel level in the tank changes.


Launch vehicle systems and methods for landing and recovering a booster stage and/or other portions thereof on a platform at sea or on another body of water are disclosed. In one embodiment, a reusable space launch vehicle is launched from a coastal launch site in a trajectory over water. After booster engine cutoff and upper stage separation, the booster stage reenters the earths atmosphere in a tail-first orientation. The booster engines are then restarted and the booster stage performs a vertical powered landing on the deck of a pre-positioned sea-going platform. In one embodiment, bidirectional aerodynamic control surfaces control the trajectory of the booster stage as it glides through the earths atmosphere toward the sea-going platform. The sea-going platform can broadcast its real-time position to the booster stage so that the booster stage can compensate for errors in the position of the sea-going platform due to current drift and/or other factors. After landing, the sea-going platform can be towed by, e.g., a tug, or it can use its own propulsion system, to transport the booster stage back to the coastal launch site or other site for reconditioning and reuse. In another embodiment, the booster stage can be transferred to another vessel for transport. In still further embodiments, the booster can be refurbished while in transit from a sea-based or other landing site.

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