A key Blue Origin official believes that rocket reusability and human spaceflight could change the launch business over the next 10 years as increased demand for low earth orbit (LEO) satellites remains a “limited market” from a launch perspective.

Blue Origin Director of Strategy and Business Development Brett Alexander said Tuesday the space industry has seen dramatic progress over the last year to make booster stages reusable. Blue Origin recently has not only launched and landed its New Shepard rocket, but also reused the same rocket a few weeks ago in another successful launch. Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) also landed its Falcon 9 first stage on land in the company’s own quest to achieve reusability (Defense Daily, January 26).

Artist's illustration of Blue Origin's biconic space vehicle. Photo: Blue Origin.
Artist’s illustration of Blue Origin’s biconic space vehicle. Photo: Blue Origin.

Alexander said the big question is how long does it take to get reusability into the mainstream of launch activity and how much will it help with pricing of launches?

“We’re demonstrating that capability as applicable to an orbital booster of much larger size and we hope to be talking about that in the future,” Alexander told an audience at the 19th Annual FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington.

Alexander said private space flight, and private human space flight, are the only things he believes can be revolutionary in terms of launch demand. He believes technological advancements being made being made on the suborbital side are important contributors and that NASA’s commercial crew effort to deliver humans to the International Space Station (ISS) will contribute to these technological advancements.

Alexander wonders if private human spaceflight will take off in the next 10 years and become a new market with real demand that can change the cost equation for launch.

“Those two factors, combined together over the next 10 years, really shows us that we’re at a time right now when we have the potential to significantly change the way the launch industry operates for the better.”