Author Topic: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4  (Read 125251 times)

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #40 on: 10/06/2021 06:07 am »
You are confused. Nothing I wrote had anything to do with what Alexandra Abrams wrote. NOTHING.

Ok, let me re-iterate this: My comment is focused on refuting the Abrams manifesto, if you don't want to discuss that, that's ok, just ignore my comments about it.

You just posted to three people that you wanted to talk about the "Abrams manifesto", but apparently we didn't. I think you should take that as a hint that if we wanted to discuss that topic we would, but we're not.

On to other Blue Origin related discussions...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #41 on: 10/06/2021 06:13 am »
Elon Musk is planning to be a major source of funding for Mars colonization, and I think he sees it as a humanitarian mission, meaning no monetary ROI. For everywhere else though, there is no clear source of funding to support the initial creation of the habitats. That would be an opportunity for Jeff Bezos, who still holds the title of richest individual on Earth.

When a reliable trans-Martian railway is established the money will take care of itself. Once individuals, corporations, and governments can stake out/claim/purchase the real estate and mineral rights of a new world, Earth capital will flow as Martian capital is generated.

Not sure if you are familiar with what investors want, but they actually want a Return On Investment (ROI), not a certificate of ownership for some piece of land they can't monetize on Earth. Which reminds me of this quote:
Quote
"If you had crack cocaine on Mars... like in pre-packaged pallets, it still wouldn't make sense to bring it back here" - Elon Musk

Here in the U.S. the transcontinental railroad connected the U.S. for commerce, but it was two-way commerce. We won't have that with Mars because there won't be any minerals or materials on Mars that we need back on Earth.

So I don't see a land rush by people assuming it will make them money. Maybe a land rush for people that are speculating about the future, or just want to boast about owning a small part of another world. But shipping stuff back from Mars? Not going to happen in $ that will make a difference.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline M.E.T.

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #42 on: 10/06/2021 07:12 am »
You are confused. Nothing I wrote had anything to do with what Alexandra Abrams wrote. NOTHING.

Ok, let me re-iterate this: My comment is focused on refuting the Abrams manifesto, if you don't want to discuss that, that's ok, just ignore my comments about it.

You just posted to three people that you wanted to talk about the "Abrams manifesto", but apparently we didn't. I think you should take that as a hint that if we wanted to discuss that topic we would, but we're not.

On to other Blue Origin related discussions...

I don’t quite know how this issue got so contentious. I thought SU27k made a well articulated point.

To give my take on the reason for its importance - Abrams’s complaints could be weaponized by a disgruntled ex-worker against SpaceX as readily as it was used against Blue Origin. Hence the need to treat them with caution, without minimizing BO’s general management malaise.

Note that Berger himself tweeted that according to his sources these specific complaints were exaggerated.

Offline ulm_atms

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #43 on: 10/06/2021 01:20 pm »
snip...
The question I would ask is "has SpaceX missed any incremental steps?" Yes, they could have explored second stage reuse on Falcon 9 and chose not to. Perhaps others as well, but generally I think they look for the next logical step and try to take appropriate steps.
snip...
One nit....that is not true.  They did explore S2 reuse and when they crunched the numbers of how much a hit to payload it would take, the numbers said it was not worth it.  There was just not enough margin for it so they didn't go to the next step and actually try.

NG "should" have enough margin for a reusable second stage....time will tell.

Offline GWH

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #44 on: 10/06/2021 01:37 pm »
Meanwhile over on LinkedIn in, Rob Meyerson reflects: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/activity-6851212663821860864-ALJC


Quote
In a rural West Texas desert 5 years ago, a small team from BLUE ORIGIN conducted an in-flight escape test with #NewShepard, completing a remarkable one-year period during which 5 flights were accomplished with the same vehicle, demonstrating the functionality, reliability, and inherent safety of this new human flight system.

We celebrated this flight with our partners from NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration, United Launch Alliance (ULA), and Northrop Grumman (fka Orbital ATK).

Blue Origin was small - the company had made a conscious decision early on to operate more incrementally and with a smaller team. Blue was often compared to SpaceX, but the two couldn’t be more different – in the way they were built and the way they were operated. Between 2006 and 2015, based on publicly available headcount numbers, there is a labor gap of about 19,000 person-years between the two companies, an average of about 1900 people per year over those 10 years. Blue Origin did a lot with a small team, developing and flying five unique vehicles and developing four unique rocket engines.

We HAD the competence, the competencies, and the confidence to “start scaling the company, expand our focus to other developments, build our customer base, and turn our attention to completing a human rating certification for New Shepard and make it truly operational.”

We just needed to grow the team.

Jeff Bezos and I recognized the need to bring in operational expertise to lead Blue’s next phase of growth and decided to hire a CEO. The CEO was hired in August 2017 and, after spending a year building the Advanced Development Programs business, I left the company in November 2018.

This and the other accomplishments made by the amazing team at Blue Origin during those early days are often overlooked by the headlines of today. They cannot be erased.

I remain humbled, honored, and proud to have been a part of it. 

Ouch.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #45 on: 10/06/2021 03:06 pm »
Meanwhile over on LinkedIn in, Rob Meyerson reflects: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/activity-6851212663821860864-ALJC


Quote
In a rural West Texas desert 5 years ago, a small team from BLUE ORIGIN conducted an in-flight escape test with #NewShepard, completing a remarkable one-year period during which 5 flights were accomplished with the same vehicle, demonstrating the functionality, reliability, and inherent safety of this new human flight system.

We celebrated this flight with our partners from NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration, United Launch Alliance (ULA), and Northrop Grumman (fka Orbital ATK).

Blue Origin was small - the company had made a conscious decision early on to operate more incrementally and with a smaller team. Blue was often compared to SpaceX, but the two couldn’t be more different – in the way they were built and the way they were operated. Between 2006 and 2015, based on publicly available headcount numbers, there is a labor gap of about 19,000 person-years between the two companies, an average of about 1900 people per year over those 10 years. Blue Origin did a lot with a small team, developing and flying five unique vehicles and developing four unique rocket engines.

We HAD the competence, the competencies, and the confidence to “start scaling the company, expand our focus to other developments, build our customer base, and turn our attention to completing a human rating certification for New Shepard and make it truly operational.”

We just needed to grow the team.

Jeff Bezos and I recognized the need to bring in operational expertise to lead Blue’s next phase of growth and decided to hire a CEO. The CEO was hired in August 2017 and, after spending a year building the Advanced Development Programs business, I left the company in November 2018.

This and the other accomplishments made by the amazing team at Blue Origin during those early days are often overlooked by the headlines of today. They cannot be erased.

I remain humbled, honored, and proud to have been a part of it. 

Ouch.

That feels like a bit of a fairy tale to me. That everything was perfect before a single person came, and everything is horrible now because of that one person.

Online abaddon

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #46 on: 10/06/2021 03:57 pm »
That feels like a bit of a fairy tale to me. That everything was perfect before a single person came, and everything is horrible now because of that one person.
I have to laugh how you characterize the CEO as "a single person" as if they are some random employee.  I have no insight into how true it is or not in this case, but CEOs by the nature of their position wield tremendous power.  It's absolutely possible that "a single individual" who happens to be CEO could come in screw the pooch.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2021 03:57 pm by abaddon »

Offline Joseph Peterson

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #47 on: 10/06/2021 04:07 pm »
I don’t quite know how this issue got so contentious. I thought SU27k made a well articulated point.

This could be an issue of dictionary versus popular definitions.  The word manifesto is very frequently used in a disparaging manner in political discussions.  When I read SU27k's post yesterday my gut reaction was that the choice to use "manifesto" instead of "letter" as most people are doing was highly likely to make the conversation more contentious than it otherwise would have been.

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #48 on: 10/06/2021 04:40 pm »
That feels like a bit of a fairy tale to me. That everything was perfect before a single person came, and everything is horrible now because of that one person.
I have to laugh how you characterize the CEO as "a single person" as if they are some random employee.  I have no insight into how true it is or not in this case, but CEOs by the nature of their position wield tremendous power.  It's absolutely possible that "a single individual" who happens to be CEO could come in screw the pooch.

I don't mean to imply that the ceo is just "another person ". Obviously he has outsized impacts on the company.  However, i find it disingenuous that everything was perfect before bob.

Offline Tuts36

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #49 on: 10/06/2021 05:45 pm »
Okay, but he has had 4 years at the helm.  Would you say he has steered Blue back on course, or further off of it?

Offline niwax

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #50 on: 10/06/2021 06:00 pm »
That feels like a bit of a fairy tale to me. That everything was perfect before a single person came, and everything is horrible now because of that one person.
I have to laugh how you characterize the CEO as "a single person" as if they are some random employee.  I have no insight into how true it is or not in this case, but CEOs by the nature of their position wield tremendous power.  It's absolutely possible that "a single individual" who happens to be CEO could come in screw the pooch.

I don't mean to imply that the ceo is just "another person ". Obviously he has outsized impacts on the company.  However, i find it disingenuous that everything was perfect before bob.

Even if everything was perfect before him, and he was hired to continue that, surely those people who hired him would have fired him by now as well? Otherwise they are a least as responsible.
Which booster has the most soot? SpaceX booster launch history! (discussion)

Offline dglow

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #51 on: 10/06/2021 06:14 pm »
That feels like a bit of a fairy tale to me. That everything was perfect before a single person came, and everything is horrible now because of that one person.
I have to laugh how you characterize the CEO as "a single person" as if they are some random employee.  I have no insight into how true it is or not in this case, but CEOs by the nature of their position wield tremendous power.  It's absolutely possible that "a single individual" who happens to be CEO could come in screw the pooch.

I don't mean to imply that the ceo is just "another person ". Obviously he has outsized impacts on the company.  However, i find it disingenuous that everything was perfect before bob.

He never wrote that everything was perfect. Be wary of projecting your own interpretation.

Online tssp_art

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #52 on: 10/06/2021 07:56 pm »
Okay, but he has had 4 years at the helm.  Would you say he has steered Blue back on course, or further off of it?

Here's some history that might provide perspective. In 2008, a wayback blog post citing the then current Blue Origin website provided this quote:
Quote
Flight testing of prototype New Shepard vehicles began in 2006. Blue Origin expects the first opportunities for experiments requiring an accompanying researcher astronaut to be available in 2012. Flight opportunities in 2011 may be available for autonomous or remotely-controlled experiments on an uncrewed flight test.
So the first manned New Shepard flight was supposed to be not later than 2012. Bob Smith was hired in 2017 when New Shepard was already 5 years late. If we can blame him then we can also credit him for dragging it cross the finish line finally in 2021, nine years late from the original projections and 4 years after he took over as CEO.

I'm beginning to think Bob may have taken on mission impossible. I think the culture of Blue was set long before he got there and it's a culture that is more akin to a non-profit or maybe the think tank that it started out as. In 2018, just about a year into his tenure he commissioned the study that showed the problems with Blue's culture. My guess is he needed the ammunition provided by that study to try to fix the culture - a culture that was characterized as "lazy" and one where things were designed to be the absolute best regardless of cost and schedule and impact to business viability.

There's another wayback link from the Blue origin web site that also provides some insight. It's a post for help wanted written by Jeff Bezos describing the atmosphere that prevailed over the launch of Goddard, the predecessor to New Shepard. Unlike the intensity of the early SpaceX Falcon launches where survival was riding on the success of the outcome, the Goddard launch was, quite literally, a carnival. It was a family event with spouses and children - complete with bouncy houses for the kids and a chuck wagon dinner.

If the employees from back then were introduced to the rigor of having to deliver on schedule and on budget I can only imagine the shock they would feel, the anger directed at the "new guy" and the yearning for the good old days of Rob Myerson.

I'm not giving Bob Smith a pass; there seems to be lots of evidence that he could do better - or be replaced with someone better. But I spent years as a management troubleshooter and I would not like to have been responsible for reshaping Blue into a serious competitor to SpaceX.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2021 08:00 pm by tssp_art »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #53 on: 10/06/2021 10:31 pm »
I'm not giving Bob Smith a pass; there seems to be lots of evidence that he could do better - or be replaced with someone better. But I spent years as a management troubleshooter and I would not like to have been responsible for reshaping Blue into a serious competitor to SpaceX.

I think it is a misnomer to think that Blue Origin is in competition with just SpaceX. Blue Origin wants to be an orbital launch provider, of which there are many potential competitors.

If anything I've always thought that Blue Origin was competing to be the #2 launch provider, which all things considered would be GREAT!

Not sure if all the newer people here know what the launch industry said a few years back when addressing competition for their business. They pretty much said that they would support three, maybe four launch providers, and so based on that Blue Origin doesn't have to compete against SpaceX (who is the #1 commercial launch provider in the world), but compete against whoever is currently #2-4.

In other words Blue Origin is really competing against Arianespace, ULA, and Russia.

If that is true, then Blue Origin still holds a big potential advantage over its true competitors, since none of them are as far along in building a semi-reusable launch system.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline deadman1204

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #54 on: 10/06/2021 10:41 pm »

I think it is a misnomer to think that Blue Origin is in competition with just SpaceX. Blue Origin wants to be an orbital launch provider, of which there are many potential competitors.

If anything I've always thought that Blue Origin was competing to be the #2 launch provider, which all things considered would be GREAT!

Not sure if all the newer people here know what the launch industry said a few years back when addressing competition for their business. They pretty much said that they would support three, maybe four launch providers, and so based on that Blue Origin doesn't have to compete against SpaceX (who is the #1 commercial launch provider in the world), but compete against whoever is currently #2-4.

In other words Blue Origin is really competing against Arianespace, ULA, and Russia.

If that is true, then Blue Origin still holds a big potential advantage over its true competitors, since none of them are as far along in building a semi-reusable launch system.

Not really. All those others have years of operational experience and proven technology.   This idea that blue will work perfectly out of the box is a myth.
« Last Edit: 10/06/2021 10:46 pm by deadman1204 »

Offline dglow

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #55 on: 10/06/2021 10:59 pm »

I think it is a misnomer to think that Blue Origin is in competition with just SpaceX. Blue Origin wants to be an orbital launch provider, of which there are many potential competitors.

If anything I've always thought that Blue Origin was competing to be the #2 launch provider, which all things considered would be GREAT!

Not sure if all the newer people here know what the launch industry said a few years back when addressing competition for their business. They pretty much said that they would support three, maybe four launch providers, and so based on that Blue Origin doesn't have to compete against SpaceX (who is the #1 commercial launch provider in the world), but compete against whoever is currently #2-4.

In other words Blue Origin is really competing against Arianespace, ULA, and Russia.

If that is true, then Blue Origin still holds a big potential advantage over its true competitors, since none of them are as far along in building a semi-reusable launch system.

Not really. All those others have years of operational experience and proven technology.   This idea that blue will work perfectly out of the box is a myth.

Agreed. And I don’t think anybody else takes seriously the likelihood of ‘mythical perfection’, either.
But you don’t need perfection to outpace Europe or Russia to operational reusability, which is what Coastal Ron suggests.

Online tssp_art

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #56 on: 10/06/2021 11:01 pm »
If anything I've always thought that Blue Origin was competing to be the #2 launch provider, which all things considered would be GREAT!
<snip>
...Blue Origin doesn't have to compete against SpaceX (who is the #1 commercial launch provider in the world), but compete against whoever is currently #2-4.

In other words Blue Origin is really competing against Arianespace, ULA, and Russia.

If that is true, then Blue Origin still holds a big potential advantage over its true competitors, since none of them are as far along in building a semi-reusable launch system.

Blue Origin is not, yet, an orbital launch provider and the latest intel says New Glenn first flight is NET 2024. They need to compete against SpaceX and whoever is #2-4 in 2024.

ULA may still be in the top 4, propped up by the NSSL contract and whatever commercial launches they can attract but Arianespace will be largely priced out of the commercial market (and they are currently marketing Soyuz as well).

The real competition in 2024 though will be Rocket Lab and maybe one of the other new comers like Relativity. And Rocket Lab is arguably already ahead of Blue Origin in building a reusable launch system. For one thing they actually have an orbital launching business. And they are experimenting with recovery and reuse with Electron while designing their next step Neutron booster that will be at least partly reusable. Relativity's Terran R is intended to be fully reusable.

New Glenn was a year away from launch 2 years ago. Then last year it became two more years. Now it's three years away. At this rate it will never launch.

All of which misses the point I was trying to make in my previous post. Blue Origin is broken. The culture is not one that can  compete with real companies. The crutch of Jeff Bezos investment is having all kinds of unintended consequences and the continuation of that subsidy means they will be unlikely to change. Replacing Bob Smith may be a good idea but it ain't gonna fix the problem.

Offline Comga

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #57 on: 10/06/2021 11:03 pm »
Okay, but he has had 4 years at the helm.  Would you say he has steered Blue back on course, or further off of it?

Here's some history that might provide perspective. In 2008, a wayback blog post citing the then current Blue Origin website provided this quote:
Quote
Flight testing of prototype New Shepard vehicles began in 2006. Blue Origin expects the first opportunities for experiments requiring an accompanying researcher astronaut to be available in 2012. Flight opportunities in 2011 may be available for autonomous or remotely-controlled experiments on an uncrewed flight test.
(snip)

Wow!
That is a VERY illustrative pull from the archives.
Watch the video.
That first flight was really, really cool.
And it had absolutely nothing to do with anything that followed.
Almost fifteen years ago Blue Origin replicated the DCX.
And then... Oh! Shiny! ... went off in their ADD way to something else.

Quote
We’re working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go and so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system.
So the motivation was "exploring the solar system".
Not "millions living and working in space"
No "moving polluting industries off of Earth"
And if the goal was "lowering the cost of access to space", that goal has been accomplished.
By SpaceX
(Yes, it can go lower, and it will, at SpaceX, and maybe others.)

Quote
Accomplishing this mission will take a long time, and we’re working on it methodically. We believe in incremental improvement and in keeping investments at a pace that's sustainable. Slow and steady is the way to achieve results, and we do not kid ourselves into thinking this will get easier as we go along. Smaller, more frequent steps drive a faster rate of learning, help us maintain focus, and give each of us an opportunity to see our latest work fly sooner.
"fly sooner"
Said in 2006
That's not how it's working out.
"will take a long time"
You don't say....

So tssp_art's post has a good point.
Perhaps the whole project and culture was irrecoverably broken before Smith got there.
But we don't have to give him a pass for not succeeding at fixing it.
That's what he should have been hired to do.
It's so sad, really.
« Last Edit: 11/22/2021 05:31 am by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline GWH

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #58 on: 10/07/2021 12:31 am »
That first flight was really, really cool.
And it had absolutely nothing to do with anything that followed.
Almost fifteen years ago Blue Origin replicated the DCX.
And then... Oh! Shiny! ... went off in their ADD way to something else.

To be followed by the next step that was thrown away, the BE-2 powered New Shepard PM2: https://www.blueorigin.com/news/successful-short-hop-setback-and-next-vehicle
https://www.blueorigin.com/news/short-hop-video

I'd be really interested to know who was making these decisions to drop entire architectures and move onto something different in its entirety.

My instinct tells me these were Bezos' calls.

Offline AlexP

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Re: Blue Origin General Discussion Thread 4
« Reply #59 on: 10/07/2021 12:40 am »
Alternatively, they were building and testing gradually more complex engines for use on a vertical landing system, whilst likely also maturing flight software?

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