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Founded in the Year 2000 and privately funded by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, the company has established a facility in Culbertson County, Texas, for the development of their spacecraft known as "New Shepard".New Shepard is unique from the other spacecraft designs in this gallery in that it is designed to be a SSTO (Single Stage to Orbit) re-useable spacecraft. More so than the SpaceX Falcon 9 "Grasshopper" that is being proposed, it's totally "Buck Rogers" in its design in that it takes off vertically and also lands under its own power vertically, all in one piece.A New Shepard vehicle, if produced, could send up to 3 astronauts into orbit or could also be used for re-supply of the ISS.Blue Origin has undergone several tests using sub-scale test vehicles. The company lost one of the prototype sub-scale vehicles on August 24, 2011 when the ground crew lost control and contact.NASA has given approximately $22M to Blue Origin for additional funding and development of the New Shepard.
Under development by the US military and NASA since the 1960s, the Delta series of rockets have an impeccable history for delivering unmanned payloads into orbit. The Delta IV, which comes in five variants depending on payload requirements, will almost certainly continue to be used for launching satellites and unmanned probes into space for the foreseeable future.The Delta IV Heavy would likely be the preferred platform for launching the Orion MPCV spacecraft, at least initially.Vital specs: Delta IV
United Launch Alliance Atlas V Launch SystemThe United Launch Alliance Atlas system, formerly operated by Lockheed-Martin, like the Boeing Delta rockets, has an excellent record for sending manned and unmanned payloads into orbit and also for use in unmanned space exploration. To date, 28 out of 29 launches have been successful.Like the Delta IV, the Atlas V comes in several variants depending on the payload requirements. Atlas V is slated to be the launch system for the Dreamchaser and the Boeing CST-100.Vital specs: Atlas V