It’s nice to see Blue Origin’s successful test flight of their New Shepard vehicle on Nov. 23. This is an important milestone for that company but space enthusiasts need to temper their excitement.

First, the McDonnell Douglas DC-X flew a similar profile in the early 1990s. The difference was that New Shepard is bigger and is flying much higher with a separate payload (crew) module. Some folks are commenting that this is a sign that SpaceX has some real competition now. They need to realize that SpaceX is trying to land a larger rocket coming back from a much higher velocity. So what Blue Origin did this week is more ambitious than the DC-X but not quite as difficult as what SpaceX is trying to do with the Falcon 9 rocket.

What I don’t get is all the fan competitiveness. Why would someone interested in space exploration be a “fan” of one private company to the detriment of another? Friendly competition is fine but aren’t we all interested in the same outcome, which is reduced cost to orbit? I don’t care who gets us there: NASA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin. We should cheer them all on.

While an individual team may have scored this latest touchdown, the points count for all of us.

Michael Mackowski



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