Friday, January 05, 2007

Bezos' Baby Blasts Off - And Gently Comes to Rest



Amazon.com founder launches rocket
POSTED: 0307 GMT (1107 HKT), January 4, 2007
HOUSTON, Texas (Reuters) --

Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos has launched a new product -- literally.


In an Internet message posted this week the Internet billionaire released for the first time details and video of the November 13 launch of the test space vehicle Goddard from his private spaceport near the western Texas town of Van Horn.


The videos show the cone-shaped rocket, about 50 feet (15 meters) tall with four spindly legs, lifting off from a desert launch pad, ascending vertically 285 feet (78 meters), then returning to Earth in a flight lasting less than a minute.


It was the first test for Bezos' Blue Origin commercial space venture, which is developing a vehicle to take occupants on a 10-minute ride to the edge of space, nearly 60 miles (96 km) above the Earth and back.


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Bezos did not say when the next test flight would take place, but warned "Accomplishing this mission will take a long time, and we're working on it methodically. We believe in incremental improvement and in keeping investments at a pace that's sustainable."


[The rest isn't very long.]
Take a look at the video and note the exhaust caused by this rocket's lift-off. What I'm getting at is especially notable in this fish-eye version.

Neither the CNN nor the Blue Origins' website give any explanation of the propulsion system in use here and, while I'm no rocket scientist, I am intrigued as what the hekk it is they're using to loft a 50' tall cone nearly 300' in the air and lower it back down as gently, stably and cleanly as it appears to do in both clips.

Most of the visible reactant appears to be merely dust kicked up. I do note some "smoke" which lingers a little more than the rest, but it really looks to me like it's rising upon pillars of air*. Very interesting. Very cool.

"Slowly but Surely" is a loose paraphrasical translation of that motto, with the surety being established by a passionate determination. I think it's ever so apt and responsible, as well as being historically proven as a good bet for success.

Kudos to Bezos and his group's accomplishment!



* The best I could do to try and determine what they're using is from their Careers' page:
  • Demonstrated technical expertise in propulsion system development on liquid rocket engines or demonstrators, such as RS-68, RL-10, Integrated Powerhead (IPD), XRS-2200, RS-83, RS-84, Fastrac/MC-1, MB-XX, and TR-108.
  • Working knowledge of a variety of rocket propellants, including Hydrogen Peroxide, RP, and cryogenics.
Doesn't help me much at all.

3 comments:

  1. I want one!

    That was amazing! Especially the landing. so cool! Looks like they've been prying a couple of secrets out of those captured UFOs over in Nevada. ;-)

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  2. Hey now! You be readin' m' mind again, Blueberry! LOL!

    I hope they've got it down by the time I retire. Looks like it'd make a sweet busride for oldsters' bones to one of those orbital retirement communities I'm counting on dying on. {-;

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  3. That is very cool! I wonder if they plan to try and give Space Ship II some competition. I'm all for a vigorous private space race!

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