back to article Jeff Bezos' spaceship self-destructs in test flight

Would-be spaceman Jeff Bezos' prototype private rocket has crashed and burned after sputtering out during its test flight. Blue Origin test rocket at Mach 1.2 and 45,000 feet "A flight instability drove an angle of attack that triggered our range safety system to terminate thrust on the vehicle," Bezos said on the Blue …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Mushroom

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    looks like a calor gas bottle

    1. David Gosnell

      I was thinking...

      .... more like an immersion heater or a silo, but you may well be on to something there.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Or an adult toy.....

      .....I wonder if it was having vibration problems.....

  2. Tom 260

    Fires

    I know Texas is a ridiculously huge state, but I hope this isn't the cause of some of the wildfires going on there at present, any info on where it was in relation to the fires?

  3. Arctic fox
    Happy

    If his rocket can't manage to reach the clouds without exploding.......

    .........what about our data?

    I'll get my coat.

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      45,000 feet

      Is well above 99% of the clouds... and it didn't explode - it was turned off.

      1. Sir Cosmo Bonsor
        FAIL

        Wow

        way to miss the joke, Vlad.

        1. Arctic fox
          Happy

          @Sir Cosmo Bonsor RE "Wow"

          Yep, I chose not to use the joke-icon because I thought that it was unnecessary - just goes to show.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Devil

            IRS?

            I wonder if the crash was tax deductible, if only we had a tax management consultant to advise us....

            Anyone?

            Damnit, I'll have to go look on Linkedin again...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @ Arctic Fox & Sir Cosmo Bonsor

            Perhaps someone with the name Vladamir Plouhznickov is less familiar with the more subtle aspects of the English language than you two - just a thought.

  4. Sampler
    Coat

    Crashed and burned?

    I mean come on, it's not rocket science...

    1. Rovindi
      Mushroom

      aw come on...

      Rocket Science is easy, it´s Rocket Engineering that is difficult.

      Ask El Reg Special Projects Desk...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    T&C

    <insert Amazon's Returns Policy for sub-orbital space craft here>

    Reason for return: "Damaged on delivery"

  6. s. pam
    Facepalm

    Burning Airlines Give You So Much More

    The Shuttle, very unfortunately came down all over N.E. Texas during a wet time of year.

    Unfortunately the 40C ++ drought weather in Texas currently is "Cloudless With A Chance of SpaceBitss...."

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Thumb Up

      Well done!

      I've upvoted, if only for the excellent Eno reference slipped in there.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    JMP (POST)

    So what exactly is the current state of entrepreneur led space programmes?

    At a guess it seems like...

    Elon Musk (Space X) is doing great?.

    Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) is having set backs?.

    Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic) was nearly there but got delayed - supposed to be up in 2008?

    John Carmack (Armadillo Aerospace) is a smaller operation, but being John Carmack, we should expect something pretty slick when it is released.

    Anyone else?

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    One click self destruct

    I hope he applied for a patent on that.

    1. Heironymous Coward

      Prior art...

      Microsoft invented this for their Windows product - I believe the common term is "Blue Screen of Death".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Go

        Not exactly

        It's a BSOD allright. Blue Sky of Death.

  9. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Mushroom

    What about the usual Reg requirements?

    Video, or it didn't happen.....

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
      Coat

      You mean

      Playmobil, or it didn't happen

      don't you?

      1. Bill B

        No Playmobil

        Regrettably I think the person who did the playmobil must have left. The last playmobil I saw was mounted on PARIS last year

        1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
          Thumb Up

          Playmobil = Lester

          And actually Playmobil is very big in Spain (In fact there is a set with 18" high characters!), so I don't know what his excuse is recently (Playing with Paris & Lohan?)

          I think the last one I saw was a parody video of Joy Division, but I don't get to El Reg as often as I'd like.

  10. Sceptic Tank
    Mushroom

    Angle of attack???

    Is he hoping to invade Mexico?

  11. Monty Burns
    WTF?

    Err.... anti-gravity bomb?

    Doesn't look very aerodynamic does it! Looks like a bomb going upwards. Mind you, if you turned the picture upside down.......

  12. Roger Greenwood
    Go

    Now we know why . . .

    . . he is trying to patent retro jets for your phone. (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/12/amazon_patent_jets/)

    Vertical take-off - pretty hard.

    Vertical landing - very hard.

    Landing without breaking something - add some retro jets.

    1. Mike Flugennock
      Boffin

      Vertical landing?

      Who'd have thought that a team of aerospace engineers would actually, seriously, try to design and build a vehicle that could land vertically, on its tail, while burning retro thrust -- the way I used to see rockets land in old Grade B sci-fi movies when I was a youngun back in the '60s, and thinking to myself, "D'ahh, c'mon, that's so bogus! A _real_ booster could _never_ do that!"

      ...Actually, though, as I recall, a renegade at Douglas named Phil Bono proposed a series of "flyback" VT/VL boosters during the '60s, which looked really cool in concept art but were obviously entirely impractical in reality, at least at the time:

      http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/rombus.htm

      http://www.astronautix.com/craft/pegvtovl.htm

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Even if it ever works ...

    It'll still only be a suborbital vehicle and therefore no more than a highly advanced theme park ride!

    A vehicle is a toy unless it can actually go somewhere.

    1. James Micallef Silver badge

      @PhilW

      Leif Eriksson and Colombus wouldn't have had 'advanced' ocean-going sailing boats unless someone somewhere had started off with floating on a log and then progressed to dug-out canoes and rafts. These toys that couldn't really take you anywhere still were the starting points for more serious things.

      Our puny shuttles are still at the "floating log" stage in terms of interplanetary travel, but you gotta start somewhere. We won't be doing moon or Mars trips until a suborbital joyride is easy as pie and cheap as chips.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @James Micallef

        Mmmmmm...pie and chips...........

      2. mark 63 Silver badge
        Alert

        cycle of destruction

        @James Micallef

        All very true , but how long has it taken to get from Logs to space shuttles? ( or even columbus type galleons)?

        Do you think we have enough time to evolve from space shuttles to space liners given the rate at which population is expanding and resources are depleting?

      3. Mike Flugennock
        Thumb Up

        suborbital joyride?

        "Our puny shuttles are still at the "floating log" stage in terms of interplanetary travel, but you gotta start somewhere. We won't be doing moon or Mars trips until a suborbital joyride is easy as pie and cheap as chips."

        Hear, hear. Granted, it won't exactly be Dragon or Orion, but speaking as an old '60s kid who wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up, I'd totally settle for the suborbital joyride. It's already one of my top ten to-do items for when I hit the Powerball number.

  14. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    I had to check the author's name...

    "the damn thing went zipping around the place as though it had a mind of its own so we crashed it".

    That's so Lester-esque! Well done!

    I suspect the delay on announcing the failure was to give the team time to stop pissing themselves laughing. For goodness sake, it looks like something Wallace and Gromit would make...Well, it was probably a 'grand day out'

    Don't know why they didn't put a pointy-thingy on top of it, that's supposed to help with direction and stability, surely?

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    Blue Origin play things close to their chest

    This is the 2nd test flight they *told* anyone about.

    I'll remind people that Spacex crashed 3 times in their first 4 flights for Falcon 1.

    BO is also working on 2 *different* vehicles at the same time. I'll guess their capsule for fitting on the Atlas V for the CCDev 2 NASA contract may be getting a bit more priority.

    I'll guess they learn quite a lot about their vehicles behaviour under extreme loads from this. The old X programme rule that "If you don't break one you're not pushing the envelope hard enough".

    BTW the fondness for fitting lumps of explosive to rockets dates from 1947 when a captured V2 fired from White Sands went off course and landed in Mexico. Fitting a self destruct was a *political* decision to stop complaints, *nothing* to do with saving lives. BO's systems AFAIK just shut the valves, leaving 1 falling object to get out of the way of, rather than a cloud of fast moving (and sharp) fragments.

  16. CmdrX3
    Happy

    I already know what the problem is

    They failed to contact any of our very own LOHAN engineers. Even PARIS got twice as high as that for a total cost of (to quote James May) 10 n' 6.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Alan Brown Silver badge

    stability and pointy things

    The pointy nose thing is only of use at supersonic speeds - it actually induces more drag than a rounded tip below ~ mach 0.98

    As for stability - rockets usually use fins to get the centre of pressure below (behind) the centre of gravity. Most simple ones spin-stabilise (canted fins) and even the V2 had gyroscopically vectored thrust to keep things more or less vertical (V2 used exhaust vanes but most modern systems wiggle the nozzle.)

    So far Team Bezos have achieved about 1/5 as much as the Delta Clipper/DC-X of mid-1990s fame. At least that managed a few retrorocket landings before it fell over and went boom.

    What surprises me is that none of these guys are using airbreathing ducted fan engines where they can (or aerospikes). Fixed-nozzle based systems are generally wildly inefficient outside of a vacuum and need a lot of work to keep running happily at varying altitude.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      @Alan Brown

      "As for stability - rockets usually use fins to get the centre of pressure below (behind) the centre of gravity. Most simple ones spin-stabilise (canted fins) and even the V2 had gyroscopically vectored thrust to keep things more or less vertical (V2 used exhaust vanes but most modern systems wiggle the nozzle.)"

      Have you taken a look at a modern launch vehicle? Fins went out with the elimination of narrowing the rear end of a rocket, IE shortly after the V2.

      "So far Team Bezos have achieved about 1/5 as much as the Delta Clipper/DC-X of mid-1990s fame. At least that managed a few retrorocket landings before it fell over and went boom."

      Impossible to say how much they have achieved. This is at least flight 2 so they've managed the landing part *already*.

      "What surprises me is that none of these guys are using airbreathing ducted fan engines where they can (or aerospikes)."

      If you knew the difference between those two concepts you'd probably know why one was a bad idea and the other had no existing flight history. Look up the T/W ratio of ducted fans Vs rockets.

      " Fixed-nozzle based systems are generally wildly inefficient outside of a vacuum and need a lot of work to keep running happily at varying altitude."

      What figure did you have in mind?

      1. Mike Flugennock

        Fins: outta' style, man

        "Have you taken a look at a modern launch vehicle? Fins went out with the elimination of narrowing the rear end of a rocket, IE shortly after the V2."

        Actually, you need to head over to astronautix.com or nasa.gov, and check out some old Saturn V fotos. Check out those fins at the base of the S-IC stage on the Saturn V. They've got to be the silliest, most useless-looking fins I've ever seen on a rocket, absurdly small considering the overall size of the launch vehicle. They don't look like they could possibly have any stabilizing effect on the Saturn; I understand the dinky little fins on the Saturn V were "a Werner Von Braun" thing. As I recall, all of his designs had fins, real old-skool.

        Still, as I recall, the Saturn V used gimbaled engines for thrust vectoring. I know for sure that the Shuttle did; get on YouTube and find some Shuttle launch footage, and check out the close-up of the base of the vehicle just before launch. It's pretty impressive to see those big-ass SSME nozzles rocking and swinging back and forth in a final checkout as they approach T-0.

  19. Andus McCoatover
    Windows

    I'm surprised no-one's commented...

    This thing looks like the Android logo...

  20. DJ
    Facepalm

    The name for the next one should be...

    Indestructable III, of course.

    (With apologies to Benny Hill)

    1. wim
      Joke

      how about

      more indestructable ?

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