On Jan. 17, Tim Lloyd, the lead cognizant engineer at Blue Origin, came to Bellevue College to speak about his experiences with building rocket ships designed specially to take everyday people beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
Lloyd spoke for just under an hour about how his interest in space began and how he started work at Blue Origin.
Lloyd’s fascination with space began when he was a child. He grew up “watching a lot of sci-fi, reading a lot of sci-fi and visiting a lot of museums.” Because of this, when he went on to high school he did everything that somewhat involved space travel. Lloyd participated in internships, took engineering classes and worked for a website company where he learned that he wanted to work for smaller companies. In college, Lloyd majored in aerospace engineering and received a minor in theatre. His varied studies improved his networking abilities and prepared him for interviews. Lloyd was also a part of the Mars Society, which focused mainly on human exploration of Mars.
The decisions that Lloyd made led to him working for Blue Origin. Blue Origin is a company whose main investor is CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos, and their complete focus is dedicated to getting as many people to live in and visit space as possible. Accord to Lloyd, Blue Origin is all about “humanity expanding beyond our planet.”
Lloyd’s position requires him to oversee the construction of the capsule – the part of the rocket that people will be in during the duration of their trip. His main job is to make sure that everything is safe and the passengers will not be in danger. He gets to choose seats, life support systems, the cabin interior and the microgravity payloads.
Currently, Blue Origin is running a reusable rocket named New Shepard after the first American who went in space, Alan Shepard. The New Shepard is the first rocket in history to successfully complete a vertical launch and vertical landing. The Blue Origin team uses thrusters and parachutes to not only make sure the capsule holding the passengers gets back safely but also the rocket that got them there in the first place.
The New Shepard rocket in Texas offers a rare experience for the six passengers that it can fit inside of its capsule. When a person goes in the rocket, they will experience an 11-minute flight going above the atmosphere and then back down to earth. Within those 11 minutes, a person will experience four minutes of weightlessness in which they can unbuckle from their seats and wander around the capsule, fully experiencing the lack of gravity in space and being able to look out the largest windows in space at the beautiful views that Earth offers.
Following New Shepard’s design, Blue Origin’s base in Florida has begun developing a rocket named New Glenn after the first American to orbit space, John Glenn. New Glenn will be very similar to New Shepard with a few advances – New Glenn will be much larger with three detachable sections as opposed to two. Just like New Shepard, New Glenn will be able to vertically land itself after projecting the capsule into space.
Lloyd finished his presentation by mentioning that Blue Origin strives every day to make more and more technological advances in space travel. The company plans to open their rockets to the public within the next couple of years and Lloyd believes that even though it may start out extremely expensive, that over time, the overall cost will decrease enough that middle-class citizens can afford to take a quick flight beyond our atmosphere.