According to CNBC reporter Michael Sheetz, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith recently stated that Blue Origin is near flying the first suborbital space tourists aboard the New Shepard system. But, by his numbers, it may be delayed.
This comes after Smith said in the second half of 2019 that they were only two test flights away from launching tourists. If this is true, it could potentially place Blue Origin’s first tourists on flights next year, as opposed to this year.
As with all space flight activities, delays are sure to abound in this realm. Weather, technology, and accidents, even with other companies, can cause major headaches in scheduling flights. Blue Origin has not suffered any setbacks, at least publicly, so the potential for delay is relatively low. However, Blue Origin is particularly tight-lipped with any information in regards to many things, so that is not to say there have been no setbacks. This could also just be a sign of someone at the top speaking off the cuff and getting their information incorrect.
If there is a delay with no reason as to why, that could come down to many factors. Perhaps the anxiety of placing a human life on their rocket may be causing some jitters. They can always test launch more, with nothing at risk but the rocket and perhaps a payload. But, once a person is on board, that multiplies the anxiety immensely. Here’s hoping that Blue Origin is not experiencing anxiety, but is only exercising caution. We have stated here at Next Horizons Spaceflight that we expect a crewed launch of New Shepard this year. We anticipate that holding.