I wonder if they will be delivering packages to the lunar colony with one of these ;-)
More in the article here:
How Jeff Bezos Just Scored a Big Win Over Elon Musk
by Robert Hackett @rhhackett NOVEMBER 24, 2015, 10:56 AM EST
Blue Origin, the billionaire’s dark-horse rocket company, successfully launched and landed its reusable rocket on Monday.
The company’s New Shepard space vehicle (named in honor of the first American in space, Alan Shepard) soared to a height of 62 miles, separated into its component parts (a BE-3 rocket and crew capsule), and then touched down amid the desert landscape of its secretive facility in Van Horn, Texas.
It looks like there is still a bit of wobble on landing to control, but that will improve over time. Also they might want to land somewhere without so much abrasive debris to kick up… but it makes for a fun video…
Per the Wiki it is intended for sub-orbital only joy rides.
The Blue Origin New Shepard reusable launch system is a vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL), suborbital manned rocket that is being developed by Blue Origin, a company owned by Amazon.com founder and businessman Jeff Bezos, as a commercial system for suborbital space tourism. The New Shepard makes reference to the first United States astronaut in space, Alan Shepard.
The New Shepard propulsion module is powered using a Blue Origin BE-3 bipropellant rocket engine burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, although some early development work was done by Blue Origin on engines operating with other propellants: the BE-1 engine using monopropellant hydrogen peroxide; and the BE-2 engine using high-test peroxide oxidizer and RP-1 kerosene fuel.[
Liquid H / LOX propellant. Kind of old school, but hey, it works.
The article paints this as aimed at Elon Musk. I don’t think so. He’s making heavy launch to orbit gear. It’s Virgin Galactic that has to worry. They are both aiming at the “Space Tourist” pop ‘n drop suborbital joy riders.
Given a few more years, the USA just might get back to being a space faring people again… Given recent events with Russia, and that the Atlas engine is made in Ukraine / Russia, well, it’s getting harder to justify flying Russian Engines with our paint on the skins and hitching rides to space on Russian launch vehicles.
The RD-180 (РД-180, Ракетный Двигатель-180, Rocket Engine-180) is a rocket engine designed and built in Russia. It features a dual-combustion chamber, dual-nozzle design and is fueled by a kerosene/LOX mixture. Currently RD-180 engines are used for the first stage of the US Atlas V launch vehicle.
The RD-180 is derived from the RD-170/RD-171 line of rocket engines, which were used in the Soviet Energia launch vehicle, and are still in use in the Ukrainian/Russian Zenit launch vehicles.
2014 availability concerns
Doubts about the reliability of the supply chain for the RD-180 arose following the Ukraine crisis in March 2014. For over thirteen years since the engine was first used in the Atlas III launch vehicle in 2000, there was never any serious jeopardy to the engine supply, despite an uneven record of US-Russian relations since the Cold War. But worsening relations between the West and Russia after March have led to several blockages, including a short-lived judicial injunction from the US courts that were unclear on the scope of the US sanctions on importing the Russian engine.
On May 13, 2014, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced that “Russia will ban the United States from using Russian-made rocket engines for military launches”—a frequent payload of the ULA Atlas V launch vehicle which powers its first stage with a single RD-180 engine that is expended after each flight. In response, the US Air Force has asked the Aerospace Corporation to begin evaluating alternatives for powering the Atlas 5 booster stage with non-RD-180 engines. Early estimates are that it would require five or more years to replace the RD-180 on the Atlas V.
Even if the Russian government does not cut off the supply to ULA of imported RD-180 engines, the US Congress, with emerging support from the Air Force, has come around to a view that it would not be advantageous to the US government to start up a US production line to produce the RD-180. However, the US Congress is advocating for the initiation of a new US hydrocarbon rocket engine program, to field a new engine by 2022.
Yup, sounds about right for Government Work. Lots of talk about doing something, but no action, and then wrong action, and then more no action. You’d think we could make a 15 year old design Russian engine, especially given that we have the rights and plans… But no…
Oh Well. Looks like they are hoping that Bezos will bail them out with his engine development work. A LOX / Liquid Methane job.
US production of the RD-180
United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced in February 2015 that they are considering undertaking US production of the Russian RD-180 engine at the Decatur, Alabama rocket stage manufacturing facility. The US-manufactured engines would be used only for government civil (NASA) or commercial launches, and would not be used for US military launches. This potential project is a backup plan to the new engine development work that ULA is undertaking with Blue Origin on the BE-4.
Replacement for the RD-180 engine on US Atlas launch vehicle
As a result of the geopolitical and US political considerations as 2014 progressed, United Launch Alliance initiated an effort to consider the possible replacement of the Russian-supplied RD-180 engine used on the first stage booster of the ULA Atlas V. Formal study contracts were issued in June 2014 to a number of US rocket engine suppliers.
In September 2014, ULA announced that it has entered into a partnership with Blue Origin to develop the BE-4 LOX/methane engine to replace the RD-180 on a new first stage booster that would succeed the Atlas V. At the time, the engine was already in its third year of development by Blue Origin, and ULA expects the new stage and engine to start flying no earlier than 2019. Two of the 2,400-kilonewton (550,000 lbf)-thrust BE-4 engines will be used on the new launch vehicle booster.
Guess all that fracking might just get us back into space on our own rocket motors…
Any guesses as to when you can add “Space Flight” to your “Gift Registry listing” on Amazon? ;-)