Jeff Bezos' spaceship is set to lift off later this year

With the recent completion of its BE-3 engine, the New Shepard space capsule from Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin LLC is almost ready for liftoff, the company's president told reporters on Tuesday. "The engine is ready for flight...and ready for other commercial users," Blue Origins president Rob Meyerson said. The New Shepard is designed to carry three passengers and cargo on suborbital spaceflights. This could include deliveries to the International Space Station or using just the motor itself to launch satellites into orbit.

Meyerson did not specify when, precisely, those flights would take place, though the spacecraft is expected to complete a dozen or so autonomous launches before human pilots are allowed to try. After that, the New Shepard will need to make it through flight testing before earning a NASA Commercial Resupply Contract. Should the spacecraft prove its commercial worth, Blue Origin hopes to integrate the capsule into a larger orbital launch system by the end of the decade.