Yesterday, Blue Origin, the space rocket company owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, posted highlights from their first test launch.
Check out the video–it’s darn cool stuff. The spacecraft, named New Shepard after the first US astronaut in space, Alan Shepard, took off from West Texas and reached a height of 58 miles before separating from its rocket and parachuting back to Earth. The craft is meant to take off and land vertically, utilizing a reusable first-stage booster.
Our 110,000-lbf thrust liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen BE-3 engine worked flawlessly, powering New Shepard through Mach 3 to its planned test altitude of 307,000 feet. Guidance, navigation and control was nominal throughout max Q and all of ascent. The in-space separation of the crew capsule from the propulsion module was perfect. Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX is using the same approach in its Falcon 9 rocket. But just like Space X, Blue Origin was unable to recover the propulsion module. So, technically, the landing of the reusable rocket was unsuccessful.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to recover the propulsion module because we lost pressure in our hydraulic system on descent.
Time will tell who of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson will win the race to rule the future of privatized space flight. I’d bet on Bezos but I’m such a Branson fangirl also.