Blue Origin seeks high-tech interns with a passion for
If you're an
upper-division undergraduate, or grad student, in science or
engineering, and want an internship to remember, then Blue Origin
wants to hear from you. By the end of January. Especially if you
have "a passion for space." Never heard of them? That's because
they have been keeping a low profile.
In 2003, Newsweek called the Seattle-based company "enigmatic."
The company's employees are generally as close-mouthed as CIA
spooks. Until this week, when they announced development of a
launch site in Van Horn (TX), the only sign of their activity was
aggressive hiring in university engineering schools. The founder of
the space startup is a familiar name -- entrepreneur Jeff Bezos,
founder of Amazon.Com.
"It’s way premature for Blue to say or comment on anything
because we haven’t done anything worthy of comment," Bezos
told Newsweek last year. Bezos may talk his project down, but he's
aiming high -- Blue Origin's stated goal is to "create an enduring
human presence in space." It is apparently working on a vertical
launch and recovery suborbital spaceship, which will be designed in
Seattle but flown from the Texas site.
Bezos and company recently spoke to the Van Horn Advocate about
his plans, but didn't spill a lot of technical information. They
expect that it will be six or seven years before they are ready to
launch anything from Van Horn. The process of FAA permission for
the spaceport has just gotten underway.
The local newspaper and politicians mirrored Bezos's cautious
optimism. "Blue Origin’s decision to locate a private
aerospace testing and operations center in Van Horn holds great
promise for our state’s expansion in the field of
commercialized space fight," Texas Governor Rick Perry told the
Advocate. "The continued development of spaceports is important to
the statewide strategic plan...."
Previous news reports stated the first manned vehicle from Blue
Origin will be called the New Shepard, in honor of Alan Shepard,
the first American in space. Apart from Bezos, key Blue Origin
employees include program manager Rob Meyerson and launch manager
One of Blue Origin's many uphill tasks is to turn Seattle into a
center of space technology. Commercial and military space engineers
are clustered around a handful of long-established sites, including
Southern California, Huntsville (AL), and the Houston (TX) area.
The company counters by recruiting aggressively at top structural
and propulsion-engineering programs, and running the internship
program -- a ten-week job interview for wannabee rocket
The Blue Origin website is crystal clear and ascetically spare,
with only four main pages at this time, plus some specifics of open
positions, and absolutely nothing about the firm's technology or
plans. Two of the four pages on the site recruit employees and
interns. Prospective employees are warned: "Our hiring bar is
unabashedly extreme, and we insist on keeping our team size small.
This means the person occupying each and every spot must be among
the most technically gifted in his or her field."
The thought of being one of those people is certainly
stimulating. For an intern teetering on the brink of an aerospace
career, working with people like that must be positively
mind-expanding. Blue Origin also has three rules for would-be
employees. These aren't set out as requirements for interns, but
they are probably reliable indicators of the company's culture.
- You must have a genuine passion for space. Without passion, you
will find what we're trying to do too difficult. There are much
- You must want to work in a small company.
- We are building real hardware -- not PowerPoint presentations.
This must excite you. You must be a builder.
That pioneering spirit
seems to permeate the entire civil space community. In places like
Mojave, and around the X-Prize organizers, you can practically
taste it in the air. Whatever that spirit is, it's terribly
contagious, and the Blue Origin team seems to be thoroughly
infected with it.
So what will a Blue Origin intern do during this ten-week summer
"Students will study and participate in real engineering design
projects related to the development and construction of a manned
launch vehicle. Interns will work directly with program staff,
contributing to project goals in fields of aerodynamics,
structures, rocket propulsion, flight controls, integrated testing,
human safety and systems engineering."
There are some fine-print requirements, so interested students
should check out the Blue Origin web site through the FMI below. If
you are eligible, you can get an application for the internship by
sending an email to the email address in the FMI below.
Then again, you could apply to a big defense contractor, learn
to run the copier, and make PowerPoint presentations. The choice is