Blue Origin’s first crewed test flights probably won’t happen until 2018

Blue Origin, the spaceflight company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, had originally been aiming for late 2017 as the target gate to begin sending human crew up to space aboard its rockets, with the aim of beginning commercial tourist rocket rides in 2018. The 2018 target remains in place for initial commercial service, but Blue Origin is now looking more likely to start test flights in 2018, rather than later this year.

Bezos told reporters that it he doesn’t think it’s going to happen in 2017, as planned, though it still “could be” possible. Bezos said that the company will “put humans on it when we’re happy,” according to Space News, regardless of any previously stated timelines. Should testing prove to proceed more quickly at a level Blue Origin is comfortable with, end of year crew testing isn’t out of the question.

Still, Bezos stressed multiple times during the news conference at the  33rd annual Space Symposium in Colorado that Blue Origin is “not racing” to put people into space, and that the team will not take “any shortcuts,” and will ultimately “put humans on this vehicle when we’re ready and not a second sooner.”

Tickets for Blue Origins initial commercial tourist flights will go on sale closer to that program’s launch, he added, and there’s no pricing attached to that yet, though Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic tickets run around $250,000 per, and it’s likely that Blue Origin’s fare will be in the same ballpark.

SpaceX’s crewed testing date has also been pushed back to 2018 from an initial target of 2017, and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner is also looking at 2018 as the timeframe to begin crewed launch tests. The way this is shaping up, 2018 could be a very busy year in terms of American companies sending people to space for the first time.