Jeff Bezos teases New Shepard capsule interior
In a March 29, 2017, email, Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos revealed additional progress on the company’s New Shepard suborbital space tourism capsule. Instead of focusing on spaceflight technologies, the latest images coming out of the company show tantalizing photos of the ship’s interior.
Moving forward, turtle-style
Bezos has characterized Blue Origin’s approach to spaceflight by the Latin motto “Gradatim ferociter,” or “Step by step, boldly.”
Another symbol of this approach is a set of tortoise images (from the Tortoise and the Hare fable) painted on the side of the New Shepard test rocket. Blue Origin sees itself as winning the race to getting people to space commercially.
“Our New Shepard flight test program is focused on demonstrating the performance and robustness of the system,” Bezos said in the email.
Of course one of the critical portions of New Shepard – for the passengers – will be the comfort of the interior of the capsule.
“We’ve been designing the capsule interior with an eye toward precision engineering, safety, and comfort,” Bezos said, adding that “Every seat’s a window seat” and that the capsule will feature “The largest windows ever in space.”
The first image in the email shows a female passenger standing on a launch gantry looking inside the capsule. True to form, the windows are large, especially to anyone who has flown in a commercial aviation aircraft.
The Blue Origin website advertises the windows as being nearly 43 inches (1.08 meters) tall, compared with about 15 inches (0.4 meters) on a Boeing 747 or a little over 6 inches (0.15 meters) on the historic supersonic Concorde aircraft.
The email’s second image (seen at the top of this article) shows the interior, which features five black padded reclined chairs spaced evenly head-to-feet around the conical interior. The chairs are padded to provide the passengers a comfortable ride during ascent and reentry and the white walls around the windows appear padded as well.
In front of each passenger seat, mounted on the wall next to each window, is a small video screen, which presumably will depict video of their rocket’s progress during the flight. A console at center of the cabin floor provides indirect lighting.
In the email’s third image, passengers are depicted floating free of their seats, enjoying the views through the capsule’s massive windows.
The final image shows a tiny branding touch on the styling of the chairs. Embedded in the triangular-patterned cushioning is another Blue Origin symbol: a bird’s feather.
“If you happen to be attending the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs April 3-6, come see this for yourself,” Bezos said at the end of his email. “The high-fidelity capsule mock-up will be on display alongside the New Shepard reusable booster that flew to space and returned five times.”
Tortoises, bird feathers, and Latin phrases aside, Blue Origin is working on hardware that will fly humans on suborbital trajectories into space. It is doing this through a slow-and-steady approach.
Bart Leahy is a freelance technical writer living in Orlando, Florida. Leahy's diverse career has included work for The Walt Disney Company, NASA, the Department of Defense, Nissan, a number of commercial space companies, small businesses, nonprofits, as well as the Science Cheerleaders.