The successful launch of the first rocket of Blue Origin’s company
Billionaires who made their cash in dot-coms from the 1990s successfully launching commercial rockets is officially a trend, now that Jeff Bezos has followed in the footsteps of Elon Musk with Wednesday’s successful test flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle.
Bezos’ company has been slowly working up to the launch, with tests of its liquid hydrogen BE-3 engine over the past few years, both at the Blue Origin test facility in Van Horn, Texas and at NASA facilities.
According to a blog post by Bezos, the engine successfully powered the unmanned crew capsule at speeds reaching Mach 3 to the planned test altitude of 307,000 feet where separation was successful.
“Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return,” writes Bezos.
However, the test was not a complete success. Much like Musk’s Falcon 9, one of Blue Origin’s goals is for its rockets to be reusable, and the test module was unable to be recovered due to a loss of pressure in its hydraulic system during descent.
Bezos says improved hydraulics are already in the works and test rockets number two and three are in the process of being assembled. Blue Origin is also working on a bigger, more powerful launch system in partnership with United Launch Alliance that will power ULA’s next-generation launches.