The Heinlein Prize Trust announced today that it is awarding its prestigious Heinlein Prize to Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, for his vision and leadership in commercial space activities that have led to historic firsts and reusability in the commercial spaceflight industry.
The Heinlein Prize honors the memory of Robert A. Heinlein®, a renowned American author. The purpose of the Heinlein Prize is to encourage and reward progress in commercial space activities that advances Robert and his wife Virginia’s dream of humanity’s future in space. In addition to the award, recipients receive a Lady Vivamus sword from Robert Heinlein’s novel, Glory Road.
Under Bezos’ leadership, Blue Origin developed a number of technology firsts that are driving U.S. space competitiveness. The reusable BE-3, a liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen engine, is now being used in Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft. New Shepard is the first rocket ever to fly above the Karman line into space and then land vertically upon the Earth. Furthermore, it has done so multiple times with the same rocket hardware – not even removing the engine between flights. In late 2014, Blue Origin reached a commercial agreement with a private launch company to develop the BE-4 engine which could be used to power the next generation of U.S. launch vehicles.
“Under Jeff’s visionary leadership, Blue Origin has developed launch vehicles and a commercially-financed line of engines that pave the way to reusability in space transportation,” said Art Dula, Trustee of the Heinlein Prize Trust. “As a recipient of the Heinlein Prize, we recognize Jeff and the efforts of the Blue Origin team in its development of technologies that could revolutionize the industry and provide commercially-available launch capabilities to a variety of customers.”
“Robert Heinlein inspired millions with his visionary—and incredibly entertaining—stories, and it’s an honor for all of us at Blue Origin to receive this award,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin. “Heinlein foresaw a thriving future with humans throughout the solar system. We won’t stop working to make that vision come true.”
Bezos is the third recipient of the Heinlein Prize. The first award was to Dr. Peter Diamandis in 2006 for the Ansari XPRIZE and SpaceShipOne, the first manned commercial vehicle to fly to space. The second prize was awarded to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk in 2011 for the Falcon 1, the first privately-developed launch vehicle to orbit the Earth.
Announcement of the award was made today at the NewSpace conference in Seattle. This event attracts space industry leaders, startups, policymakers, the investment community and technology innovators. The Heinlein Prize is a sponsor of NewSpace, where it is exhibiting the Have Space Suit – Will Travel educational program that includes the spacesuit worn by former astronaut and current NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden.
The Heinlein Prize will be awarded to Bezos in a ceremony in Washington, DC on September 14, 2016. For more information, visit the Heinlein Prize website.
Diane Smiroldo, 703.819.1963