Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin has released video of its third successful flight on April 2. Alongside Elon Musk's SpaceX, Blue Origin is one of the drivers behind more reusable rockets, and the Saturday test didn't disappoint: its New Shepherd rocket launched and made a successful vertical landing near Van Horn in Texas. Previous …
Yes. It seems Blue Origin were originally going with a more conventional design until they got wind of the something heading our way from deep space. This led redesign efforts to the current shape in an effort to appease our new Giant Space Vagina overlady(bits).
True, the rocket they have now is a toy.
But they're learning lots of stuff that can be applied to non-toy rockets. E.g. they built their own engine, they have the whole landing system, space life support systems, stage separation system, and they have rocket assembly experience.
SpaceX started out with small non-reusable rockets and grew into bigger rockets and later reusable ones, as they got more experience, and they're planning on going for manned launches soon. Blue Origin are a bit behind and are going the other route, they're starting out with a small reusable rocket and they'll make it manned next, then they'll make it bigger as they get more experience.
SpaceX partly funded its growth with small cargo missions; Blue Origin is going to try to partly fund itself with suborbital passenger joyrides.
Both companies should eventually get to reusable manned orbital rockets & reusable heavy cargo rockets.
(Note for pedants: By "manned" I mean "actually flown with people on board". Both SpaceX and Blue Origin have designed their rockets to be manned, but neither has actually flown humans yet).
Not necessarily, Bezos and Musk have very different monetization strategies.
Musk is simple - "the whole package - take it or leave it". It is very conventional - this is how most companies build product.
Bezos so far has managed to sell each of his services as a retail "e2e version" and as "wholesale" - AWS, etc all started as backends for his retail shop. He is already going down that route with Blue Origin. The engine and its higher capacity version are already sold to United Launch Alliance. I would not be surprised if all components are similarly available separately at the end. Building something "the Bezos way" is more difficult, it takes longer, but it is ultimately a massively hedged strategy - he will make money even if he does not succeed in building an orbital launcher of his own.
SpaceX have rockets that can put useful payloads into orbit, and they can (sometimes) land them, but they're yet to actually re-use a piece of hardware.
Blue Origin have rockets that can only just reach space, but they've cracked the landing and re-use part of the problem.
Both firms are working towards the same problem from different directions, and while they're in competition, I'd be surprised if they didn't feel more kinship with each other, rather than competition with the "old guard" who've had a monopoly on selling rockets in the US for years.
We still need a Rocket! icon methinks elReg >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Yes I know that Bezos is building towards bigger rockets, and these are already serious bits of kit. But the grasshopper was doing all of this several years ago - it was just using a lower peak altitude because it wasn't targeting tourism, but was a pure technology demonstrator.
There was a great infographic posted a few months back - pointing out that the Falcon 9 first stage could put a fully fuelled and loaded Blue Origins NS into orbit...
That's a colossal difference in capability!
Masten Space Systems, Armadillo Aerospace, Unreasonable Rocket and a handful of other start ups were landing rockets accurately long before SpaceX. None of them went to "space", but the really hard part is the controlled landing. The rest of it mostly takes much larger fuel tanks.
Look up "Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge" for more information.
The DC-X was the first US government real go at a vertical landing rocket.
"Blue Origin have rockets that can only just reach space, but they've cracked the landing and re-use part of the problem."
Blue Origin has "cracked" only the problem of reusing a small, sub-orbital, single-stage rocket. They are very far from cracking the much bigger problems that SpaceX is solving now.
She's not really interested in this stuff and has never seen a Blue Origins launch.
Her comment? "Christ, it looks like a huge dildo!"
So, based on my non-technical, uninterested in space wife, I find it hard to believe the design engineers weren't giggling behind their hands while justifying the shape "for good engineering reasons"
Well done, Jeff.
I still won't be able to afford a trip.
For a trip to "space" on my income, my hopes are on balloon rides, which I think have a better likelihood to become affordable enough in my lifetime. I wouldn't get the acceleration of a rocket launch (I can get them in a rollercoaster) or the weightlessness (could get that in a vomit comet if I cared), but on the plus side I'd get to see space for an hour or two instead of just five minutes.
Riding a dragon capsule to a Bigelow space motel? I need a few lottery wins first.