Blue Origin, LLC is an American privately funded aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company headquartered in Kent, Washington. Founded in 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the company is led by CEO Bob Smith and is developing technologies to enable private human access to space with the goal to dramatically lower costs and increase reliability. Blue Origin 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 Origin is developing a variety of technologies, with a focus on rocket-powered vertical takeoff and vertical landing (VTVL) vehicles for access to suborbital and orbital space. The company's name refers to the blue planet, Earth, as the point of origin.Initially focused on suborbital spaceflight, the company has designed, built and flown multiple testbeds of its New Shepard spacecraft at its facilities in Culberson County, Texas. Developmental test flights of the New Shepard, named after the first American in space Alan Shepard, began in April 2015, and flight testing continued into 2018, with its first passenger-carrying spaceflight planned for 2019.
On nearly every one of the test flights since 2015, the uncrewed vehicle has reached a test altitude of more than 100 km (330,000 ft) and achieved a top speed of more than Mach 3 (3,675 km/h; 2,284 mph), reaching space above the Kármán line, with both the space capsule and its rocket booster successfully soft landing.Blue Origin moved into the orbital spaceflight technology business in 2014, initially as a rocket engine supplier for others via a contractual agreement to build a new large rocket engine, the BE-4, for major US launch system operator United Launch Alliance (ULA). By 2015, Blue Origin had announced plans to also manufacture and fly its own orbital launch vehicle from the Florida Space Coast, known as the New Glenn. BE-4 had been expected to complete engine qualification testing by late 2018, but the test program continued into 2019.
In May 2019, Jeff Bezos unveiled Blue Origin's vision for space and also plans for a moon lander known as "Blue Moon", set to be ready by 2024.