By: Nick Gambino
Privately owned company, Blue Origin, has successfully launched a rocket into space today and then… wait for it…brought that same rocket back into our atmosphere and back to the ground for a controlled landing.
That is just nuts. Absolutely bananas. This is history in the making and for the first time ever brings the concept of commercial and affordable space travel into the realm of possibility.
Blue Origin, run by founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, has been in a race with similar companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX to successfully pull off a returned controlled landing. SpaceX has tried for the last year but unsuccessfully.
To put this monumental event into perspective, consider this. Every time NASA or anyone else has sent a manned or even unmanned rocket into space, the rocket never returns. I mean never. Not without being destroyed at least. Usually it just floats off into space, never to be heard from again or its destroyed.
Go watch Apollo 13 again and take a look at what happens when they get into space. They detach from the rocket and it goes bye-bye. That’s been SOP for as long as we’ve been going to space.
This is why we don’t send a lot of missions to the great unknown and why commercial travel hasn’t been cracked yet, until now. The cost alone would never justify constantly sending unreturned rockets to space. Every trip would mean building an entirely new, crazy-expensive, highly technical rocket.
In the video that Blue Origin released you can see the rocket detaching and returning to Earth and performing an Iron Man-esque landing, completely intact and ready for more. What got me really excited was when they showed a simulation of commercial passengers getting to experience 4 minutes of weightlessness and observe Earth from above.
Jeff Bezos, obviously crazy-excited, took to Twitter to tweet out from his account for the first time since he set it up 7 years ago.
“The rarest of beasts – a used rocket. Controlled landing not easy, but done right, can look easy,” his tweet read with a link to the video.
Musk tweeted out his congratulations but not without taking a dig. “Congratulations to Jeff Bezos and the BO team for achieving VTOL on their booster.” His follow-up text read, “It is, however, important to clear up the difference between ‘space’ and ‘orbit,’” with a link to back up his point.
Hmmm…sounds like tonic water (bitter). Don’t let that tweet water down the impact of this event, it’s one for the history books.
So mark it in your calendars, folks, November 24th 2015, the day space travel finally became accessible.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.