Amazon founder Jeff Bezos used his Twitter account for the first time in 7 years after his handle @JeffBezos was registered to send his very first tweet. The tweet was about the very first successful attempt in controlled landing of a space rocket (firsts in many things).
It was history in the making as this was the first ever recorded space rocket to have been taken out into ‘space’ and then landed back on earth, completely controlled.
The founder of Amazon had first revealed that he was entering the commercial space flight business back in April. He had announced that a company he owns, Blue Origin, would soon be running test flights for its New Shepard spaceship, with a capacity for six people.
Blue Origin, before sending humans to space, has today executed the launch of a reusable space vehicle named New Shepard (named in honour of the first American in space, Alan Shepard) which then did a U-turn after reaching its planned testing altitude and came back down to earth.
Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts—a used rocket,
said Jeff Bezos,
Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle flew a flawless mission—soaring to 329,839 feet and then returning through 119-mph high-altitude crosswinds to make a gentle, controlled landing just four and a half feet from the center of the pad. Full reuse is a game changer, and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again.
The New Shepard is a fully controlled space vehicle that takes commands from the Blue Origin’s West Texas launch site. The vehicle is made up of two separate units, a crew capsule in which the astronauts ride and a rocket booster powered by a single American-made BE-3 liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen engine. The BE-3 during lift-off, delivers 110,000 pounds of thrust.
As the vehicle careens into space, the Astronauts inside experience thrice the force of gravity. After this supersonic flight towards sub-orbital space, the crew capsule separates from the booster and coasts into space, providing several minutes of weightlessness. Later when the crew capsules starts back towards home, t reenters the atmosphere with astronauts experiencing about 5x the force of gravity before deploying three main parachutes for landing. The boosters, on the other hand, descend under guided flight to the landing pad.
A little before touchdown, the booster re-ignites its BE-3 engine, slowing the vehicle down to 4.4 mph for a gentle, powered vertical landing, enabling vehicle reuse.
That was the general idea of how the vehicle operates. Now let’s check out today’s voyage of the New Shepard.
The vehicle was launched at 11:21 a.m. Central time. It then reached the pre-defined mission height of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) above sea-level. At this point, the vehicle was under Mach 3.72. Re-ignition of rocket booster was then re-initiated at 4,896 feet above ground level. Controlled vertical landing of the booster at 4.4 mph was then done. Crew capsule drogue parachutes were then deployed at 20,045 feet above ground level. The vehicle was successfully landed under parachutes at 11:32 a.m. Central Time.
Fellow space prodigy, Elon Musk, after congratulating Bezos and Blue Origin for its efforts quickly pointed out that the New Shepard’s mission altitude was still only a “sub-orbital” spaceflight.
Musk’s SpaceX has been trying to develop reusable rockets too, but hasn’t yet been successful. It is worth noting that Musk is trying to take his rocket to an “orbital spaceflight,” in which a spacecraft is dispatched onto a trajectory that would enable it to remain in space for at least one full orbit of the Earth. This means that Musk’s vehicle needs to take a lot more beating that Bezos’.