Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space Technology

Blue Origin Release Flight Videos 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the up-up-and-away dept.
Reality Master 101 writes "Space start-up Blue Origin (financed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) had a secret test flight on November 13, 2006. They've now released video and pictures of the very successful flight. Looks like they're making good progress." From the page: "We're working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go and so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system. Accomplishing this mission will take a long time, and we're working on it methodically."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Blue Origin Release Flight Videos

Comments Filter:
  • huh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:38PM (#17452654) Homepage
    We're working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go and so that we humans can better continue exploring the solar system.

    What, you mean $20 million a person isn't low enough?
  • You are going to run out of fuel.
    Land on the pad quickly.
  • I'm not sure what they are using for rockets, but it seems to frost over some of the camera lenses. They need to have some sort of defrosters on them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by HaeMaker (221642)
      It's powered by H2O2.
      • by suv4x4 (956391)
        It's powered by H2O2.

        I trust them to know their job more than a random Slashdot poster (me) does, but it looks like they are running out of fuel pretty fast in that way. The tests work well, I wonder though if they can get it actually in orbit.

        If it was me, I'd try a different idea. Like.. make the longest rope in the world, then send astronauts to mount it on the moon, and make them pool the capsules from Earth into orbit.

        I'm sure it'll work fine.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Aladrin (926209)

        Dihydrogen monoxide is dangerous!! [dhmo.org]

        Oh, it's dihydrogen dioxide? Carry on then!

      • half right (Score:3, Interesting)

        by everphilski (877346)
        H2O2 + a fuel. They are pretty secretive about what they do out on the ranch but that much is known from public filings. And no (to answer sibling post) this rocket isn't orbital although it may be the upper stage of an orbital craft (or just a technology testbed)
        • by joto (134244)
          This is not the upper stage. The only reason to design a rocket this way is to have a single stage to orbit. Otherwise, you could just continue using rockets like e.g. Apollo, which is actually pretty well designed.

          • Something tells me that this craft as configured would not be capable of achieving orbit from a ground launch. Perhaps a balloon launch would make things more feasible. However, why would you want to come down with such BIG empty fuel tanks that are no longer necessary? There being empty certainly decreases the mass ... but it's still mass.

            In any case ... good luck to them. I think they're going to need it. I don't think anyone will pay a cent for a sub-orbital flight.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Rei (128717)
              People, this isn't even remotely close to something that could provide reach to orbit. H2O2 monoprops are pretty worthless as far as orbit goes; you might as well make a sugar rocket. It wouldn't be an upper stage; its propellant is too heavy for how much thrust it provides (poor ISP). It wouldn't be a lower stage, obviously. It's so far from an SSTO it's laughable. It's not a stepping stone to an orbital craft because they'd have to completely redesign the engine, the tanks, and basically the whole cr
          • It is too small for a SSTO in and of itself. It is either just a testbed vehicle or a second stage. Most likely just a testbed (like Burt Rutan's SS1)
      • According to the wikipedia, it is fueled by hydrogen peroxide and kerosene.
    • Re:Defrosters (Score:4, Informative)

      by cheesybagel (670288) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @10:36PM (#17453486)

      The thing is much bigger than I expected. I would guess with a 2m radius and 4m height. It is quite fat, so I guess they are using spherical or ellipsoidal propellant tanks. The shape reminds me of the Kankoh Maru [astronautix.com] and the shell seems to be made of composites or plastic. I guess the blunt nose makes sense because the thing is suborbital and they do not have a wide cross range requirement like the Delta Clipper [astronautix.com] had.

      I am not an expert, but the burn looked too clean, I guess it is a pressure fed mono propellant. Perhaps H2O2 (Hydrogen Peroxide) like someone else said. Much like what Carmack tried to do with Armadillo. I counted 3 x 3 = 9 thrust chambers in that setup.

      The man requested someone with experience in cryogenic turbopumps. Even mentioned the RS-68 explicitly. So it seems to me he is going for a pump fed LOX/LH2 engine. It makes much more sense to me than the H2O2/Kerosene rumours I heard before. Why risk it all by going for an engine no one has built before? I mean the only rocket engine with that combo I remember is the one [astronautix.com] in the British Black Arrow [astronautix.com] rocket from the 70s. Beal [bealaerospace.com] killed himself by going with a risky H2O2/Kerosene combo and a filament wound shell.

      A LOX/LH2 engine with a variable mixture ratio would do the trick. H2O2 is IMO overrated and finicky. LOX is cheaper than high purity H2O2 and has pretty good density. You have to go for LH2 if you wanna go orbital anyway for the ISP AFAIK (unless you use a lot of stages, which I guess is what they do not want).

      • Eh, more like 2m radius and 6m height. Sorry about the thinko. :-)
      • by cananian (73735)
        The environmental impact statement [hobbyspace.com]'s description of the "low altitude demonstrator of the propulsion module" confirms its use of a high-test peroxide monopropellant.

        It seems that Blue Origin would have to amend their Environmental Impact Statement if they changed propellants, but perhaps they'd first develop and validate the LOX/LH2 engine design before doing the EPA paperwork.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rei (128717)
        Agreed about H2O2. Why are people so in love with this stuff as far as rocketry goes? You just have to look at its history to see that the devil is in the details. The stuff likes catalytic decomposition (the hotter it gets, the faster it decomposes, releasing heat). You have to have stabilizers in it to prevent it from exploding in your tanks, but those stabilizers hurt your ability to decompose it on catalyst packs and tend to clog them. You have to have spotlessly clean tanks, which is clearly an a
  • As god intended (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @08:49PM (#17452744)
    a vertical take-off, vertical-landing vehicle designed to take a small number of astronauts on a sub-orbital journey into space.

    And to quote a great song writer "and it will take off and land on its tail, Like God and Robert Heinlein intended."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jfengel (409917)
      Oh, man, you got my hopes up. It's not a song, it's just an article, by Arlan Andrews, Sr. Still, it's a great phrase, and I'm gonna use it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by samkass (174571)
      This reminds me of the old "Delta Clipper" DC-X [wikipedia.org] design from McDonnell Douglas. Ironically, when looking Delta Clipper up at wikipedia to find a link for my previous sentence, it mentions the same thing.

      The really nice thing about powered landings are that they can be done in an airless environment. You can use the same design to get to orbit, refuel, then go to the moon, mars, asteroids, etc. Just start cranking them off the manufacturing line and putting a fleet in LEO and you're halfway to everywhere.
  • The year when space tourism goes big?
    • by Salvance (1014001) *
      More like 2017, unless you consider 1 or 2 more $20M trips by Billionaires "Big".
  • by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:35PM (#17453064) Journal
    I want to see the video of the crayola sponsored craft [blueorigin.com] with the four rockets in the corners being launched.
    • by Flounder (42112)
      Only if it lands bouncing-ball style like the Mars rovers. And manned, it must be manned.
    • You completely misunderstand. This is the LTS (Lunar Training Simulator) module wherein the trainees must learn to traverse the terrain whilst harvesting morbier and the delicate blu del Mooncenisio. As you can see from the picture, Blue Origin starts the training at a young age. They really are preparing for a lengthy program!
  • Scaling Up? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dgillies (1046612) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:35PM (#17453072)
    Amazon vs. Armadillo for the next Lunar Lander Challenge at the X-Prize Cup? It sure looks Bezos has more than enough to create some meaningful competition. Seriously though - how much bigger is this vehicle going to get? The photos of it on the flatbed truck are awe inspiring...yet I can't imagine how much of that must simply be for fuel. The website's career section has a lot of talk on cryogenics, turbopumps, and Delta/Atlas sized rockets. It sounds like Bezos is going along the conventional routes for launch (erm just look at the name of the rocket - the New Shephard), and the H2O2 rockets being tested out now in the video are only retrorockets to be used during landing, in place of or in addition to parachutes. It'll be really interesting to see what a sub-orbital version looks like.
    • Re:Scaling Up? (Score:5, Informative)

      by FleaPlus (6935) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @10:30PM (#17453438) Journal
      Seriously though - how much bigger is this vehicle going to get? The photos of it on the flatbed truck are awe inspiring...yet I can't imagine how much of that must simply be for fuel.

      The Environmental Impact Statement they were required to publish last year [hobbyspace.com] describing their suborbital vehicle says that the "stacked vehicle would have a roughly conical shape with a base diameter of approximately 7 meters (22 feet) and a height of approximately 15 meters (50 feet)."

      Judging from the photograph with the guy standing next to the rocket, the current test article seems to be maybe 6-7 meters tall, so I guess the final thing will be more than twice as tall.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @09:49PM (#17453176)
    What a cute little rocket :D

    What they should do is get business partners who already know how to build rockets and offer them incentives to partipate. NASA's vision right now is not on target but that is not a failure of NASA engineers but a failure of management. Draw the engineering teams into this that already have experience. Don't do it half-assed.

    And before the NASA bashers get their RSS feed and feel the need to talk about how stupid NASA is...yes NASA has problems but between Orbital, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, Pratt and Whitney, ATK, the Russians, the other numerous companies who build and integrate rockets and have spend billions upon billions on launch vehicles, this current effort is honestly a waste to me. It's great to see people wanting to innovate, but wanting and doing are not the same.

    Rocket science is not easy. You cannot cut corners on development and testing and there is no substitute for the decades of experience these companies have.

    If you want to innovate, get on board advanced propulsion or space elevator projects. sub-orbital is not hard...warp drive to the next galaxy is hard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The problem is NASA doesn't seem interested in cheaper access to space.

      One might even say all NASA seems interested in is transferring government money to Orbital, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, Pratt and Whitney, et al. without anything to show for it. *cough*X-33*cough*

      Maybe they need to be embarrassed into some actual innovation instead of more business-as-usual.
      • NASA absoluetly has incentive to make spaceflight cheaper. Their incentive is they can run more missions on a shrinking budget.

        Just remember one thing though. NASA is a public agency. This means that they are incredibly afraid of PR problems that occur when their vehicles explode with people on board. Granted that this will hurt a private corporation too. But not until it actually happens. Do not expect double and triple redundancy in the efforts of the private firms to provide an elevator ride just a
      • The problem is NASA doesn't seem interested in cheaper access to space.

        As a governmental agency, the last thing NASA should be interested in is directly competing with private industry. If cheaper spaceflight helps NASA's mandate, fine, but no federal agency should be involved in what is, essentially, a commercial venture.

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *
        One might even say all NASA seems interested in is transferring government money to Orbital, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Honeywell, Pratt and Whitney, et al. without anything to show for it.

        With a Republican in the White House, I'm shocked that someone would say that! :)

        You don't think the war in Iraq/Afghanistan *really* costs *that* much, do you?
    • by pyite (140350)
      Rocket science is not easy. You cannot cut corners on development and testing and there is no substitute for the decades of experience these companies have.

      Jeff Bezos is no stranger to recruiting good talent. Before Amazon, he worked at DE Shaw & Co. [deshaw.com], a premier quantitative finance firm known for ridiculous recruiting practices. Bezos will find people of the skill level he needs and compensate accordingly.

    • by RexRhino (769423) on Thursday January 04, 2007 @12:52AM (#17454556)
      All the companies you mentioned have an interest in keeping space flight and expensive, government-only prospect. While hiring engineers from those companies might be OK, those companies in themselves are part of the military-industrial complex and have no interest in making cheap consumer goods.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        All the companies you mentioned have an interest in keeping space flight and expensive, government-only prospect. [snippage...] those companies in themselves are part of the military-industrial complex and have no interest in making cheap consumer goods.

        This is nothing but tinfoil hat nonsense created by the space fanboi crowd to explain why a magic wand hasn't been waved and provided them with masturbatory fantasies.

        The reality those companies have every incentive to chase profit making opportunit

        • It's moderated funny - but it's the stone cold brutal truth. And space fanboi and alt.space (NewSpace) communities have been doing all they can for decades to ignore it.
    • Rocket science is not easy. You cannot cut corners on development and testing and there is no substitute for the decades of experience these companies have.

      To quote John Carmack, "Rocket science is not as easy as amateurs think it is, but it's not as hard as the professionals think it is."

      NASA is only part of the problem. The other problem are the Lockheed's, etc, who think nothing can be done for less than a billion dollars. They have zero incentive to reduce the cost of space -- why should they? The

  • I would like to point out that they are making the same mistake that doomed the Delta Clipper. Four landing legs. As it seems these are not retractable, perhaps it really doesn't matter on this first gen prototype, but hopefully they won't make the same mistake on upscaled hardware.
    • Four legs seemed to be good enough for the Lunar Module during the Apollo days. Why is it a bad idea now?
      • 6 is better (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cyclomedia (882859)
        with 4 legs if one fails the thing falls over. with 6 legs any two can fail and the thing will still remain upright, provided the weight is uniformly spread.

        Remember this is going to weigh a lot more than the lunar lander and will land on earth, with it's much stronger gravitational pull, both those factors multiply the stresses on the gear and even with services these are designed to be reused, microfactures will creep through and joints will stick
        • by drsquare (530038)
          If it's that fragile I don't want to be flying it anyway.
        • with 4 legs if one fails the thing falls over. with 6 legs any two can fail and the thing will still remain upright, provided the weight is uniformly spread.

          Oh. Right. I hadn't thought of that. I thought they were pushing for three legs... stable tripod and all that. Six does make a certain amount of sense. Well, I'm sure the slide-rule boys will do the whole risk vs weight vs cost vs strength thing, and come up with the right number of legs.
  • by rminsk (831757) on Wednesday January 03, 2007 @10:39PM (#17453520)
    I can understand vertical take off but why do a veritcal landing? It would seem it would need a lot of energy just to land meaning you need much more fuel. More fuel means more weight which means more energy to take off and to land. This would seem to make space flight more expensive not less expensive. The Space Shuttle and Space Ship One glided to a landing burning off the extra engergy with the lift (which is drag) from flight. The only advantage I see is a smaller landing area.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DigitalRaptor (815681)
      I agree. Vertical is dumb for landing in a high gravity environment (earth bad, moon good).

      For that matter, tether this thing to a balloon, take it to high altitude and do a drop launch. High safety margin (if something goes wrong you have a long time to deploy shoots or dictate your will to a lawyer on the ground), much less fuel consumption.

      But, alas, not as glorious and sci-fi looking (the only two reasons I can think of for VTOL).

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I can understand vertical take off but why do a veritcal landing? It would seem it would need a lot of energy just to land meaning you need much more fuel. More fuel means more weight which means more energy to take off and to land. This would seem to make space flight more expensive not less expensive.

      The idea is, if you can make the launch vehicle completely, or almost completely, reuseable (and no, the shuttle is not reuseable, the shuttle is remanufacturable, there's an expensive difference), then the
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zaydana (729943)

      The problem is that the extra weight needed to carry the wings for the two spacecraft you mention (the shuttle and SS1) will add more weight to the craft, and thus need extra fuel anyway. The space shuttle's wings were only designed how they were so that the shuttle could carry satellites back to earth - so it is possible to make a much lighter configuration, but I imagine it would still only be on par with a VTOVL vehicle at best, and in reality probably still worse in terms of fuel.

      • by LenE (29922)
        Yes, wings are more weight and therefore more fuel for flight, but the amount of fuel needed for a safe VTOL landing is indeterminate, based on the landing site and weather conditions. SS1 and similar space planes can use all of their fuel, and still land safely, this thing cannot. The Space Shuttle doesn't use all of it's fuel, as it needs to come in under power, but it still can use gravity and aerodynamic forces to bleed off energy, in order to govern the descent and landing. VTOL gumdrops like this t
        • The Space Shuttle doesn't use all of it's fuel, as it needs to come in under power...

          The space shuttle glides all the way in. It does not come in under power. The only propellant it burns on its way in is for the deorbit burn.

          Note that the cost of the propellants is a very small portion of the overall launch costs, and therefore having to carry extra fuel is not a big factor in the economics. In fact, it makes sense: you are already carrying the engines, all you need is some extra fuel, and guidance.

          -O

          • by pjt48108 (321212)
            Ths shuttle does indeed burn some propellant on the way in (i.e.: after deorbit burn), but only in the reaction control system, which operates until the aero surfaces become effective in the thicker atmosphere. In this case, the propellant isn't used so much to go faster in any particular direction, but to go less fast in any wrong direction(s).

            Some might recall that, moments before Columbia's ultimate demise, the shuttle's reaction control system was struggling/fighting to maintain proper entry attitude ag
      • >> The problem is that the extra weight needed to carry the wings for the two spacecraft you mention (the shuttle and SS1) will add more weight to the craft, and thus need extra fuel anyway.

        Wings add weight only when they're tacked onto a craft as an afterthought.

        If the craft *IS* a wing by design, then they add no weight at all.

        Internal structural buttressing is required whatever the shape of the craft, even if it's spherical, because weight considerations mandate that walls be thin so you can't rely
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I can understand vertical take off but why do a veritcal landing?

      Vertical landing versus horizontal landing is one of those big debates. The argument for vertical landing, as I understand it, can be summed up as "airplanes are bad spaceships, and spaceships are bad airplanes." In other words, trying to make a ship do both means it's poor at both. Look at all the problems the Space Shuttle has with protecting the wings from damage, for example.

      Actually, I read an amusing quote from Bob Truax that said

    • by rbanffy (584143)
      You could burn the extra energy using parachutes, slowing the ship down until low altitude and then lighting up the engines for a soft landing.

      Keep also in mind that most of the take-off weight is fuel - the ship is much lighter when landing than when taking off.

      It is also designed to use cheap fuels propellants, so it could be cheaper to add more fuel than to add wings (and more fuel, as the wings would be dead weight during most of the flight and they would require additional propellant to take them up wi
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FleaPlus (6935)
      More fuel means more weight which means more energy to take off and to land. This would seem to make space flight more expensive not less expensive.

      Keep in mind that fuel (especially something like the hydrogen peroxide they're using) is absurdly cheap compared to everything else. Most of the money on launch ventures goes to paying employees, so you want to do everything possible to reduce how many support personnel you have. Fuel is probably on the order of 1% of your total costs.
      • by Abcd1234 (188840)
        While cost is an important factor, that isn't entirely the point. Consider, the more fuel you have to carry through to landing, the more mass you have. And the more mass you have, the more fuel you need to get into orbit in the first place. It's a waste. Wouldn't you rather send more people or cargo?

        Furthermore, there's a lot more that can go wrong with a VTOL craft (engine trouble, fuel leak, etc, etc). The shuttle, OTOH, can glide in unpowered (assuming it has enough fuel to complete it's deorbit bur
        • by FleaPlus (6935)
          While cost is an important factor, that isn't entirely the point. Consider, the more fuel you have to carry through to landing, the more mass you have. And the more mass you have, the more fuel you need to get into orbit in the first place. It's a waste. Wouldn't you rather send more people or cargo?

          Ultimately for a venture like Blue Origin, what matters is the cost per person sent up. If you use, say, wings or parachutes regularly they might be able to squeeze on a few extra people, but how would that effe
    • by johnjay (230559)
      I didn't read the subthreads, but it seems like no one has the right answer in the immediate responses. Also, it took me a while to find my /. password.

      I believe the vertical landing is simply to pass FAA regulations for test-vehicle short hops. The vehicle isn't a space-ship, yet, but Blue Horizon still wants to test it. The logical low-weight descent is to use a parachute, but the parachute method can't really control the exact landing site. The FAA doesn't want to approve large objects landing randomly.
  • What's Bezos talking about?

    All Google seems to know is that some .us domains were registered with those words at the end of November.
  • Somehow, I suspect that by the time they are launching that there will be too many cheap launchers for leaving this planet. But I wonder if that craft can be used as a pure lunar vehicle. It would be useful to have something that can land and take off from the moon and be re-fueled in lunar orbit. In addition, if done correctly, this could be used for jumping all over the moon. If this gets done in a few years, then this combined with modified BA-330's (for 1 time landing and base building) may allow for a
  • I hate to be a grammar cop, but unless you are regarding the members of a group individually, then the collective is singular, not plural. What the headline implies is that Blue Origin is a group of independently acting people, some of whom have released their own flight videos. I doubt that's the case.

  • seriously! it's like a toy. a cutesy, wutesy wittle toy wocket...with very little potential to actually take anyone into orbit let alone return them to earth safely. one would have to scale that thing up about 10-50 fold to even start talking about obtaining serious altitude. how 'bout that whole stability thing - it's amazing they got it to remain vertical, but it's a pretty unstable equilibrium... the slightest nudge (say, from a gust of wind or something) might cause it to veer dangerously to one side
  • no offense to Jeff - probably a great guy, but there is something seriously screwed with the structure of human society to have private individuals so rich they can finance startups that take people into outer space

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      no offense to Jeff - probably a great guy, but there is something seriously screwed with the structure of human society to have private individuals so rich they can finance startups that take people into outer space

      I think that's pretty much how the "New World" was colonized, wasn't it? A bunch of richer-than-God private individuals footing the initial bill to create startup companies importing, say, exotic foods (tea, rum, tobacco)?

      I can't say the rate of return for a space-tourism venture would be on

  • Very pretty rocket. It goes 100 metres up in the air then down again. I appreciate the complexity of this task and praise the team... but... how does this scale to going orbital? links and info welcomed.

  • *yawn*. If this was pre DC-X, I'd be impressed. But startup space companies building toy demonstrators are about as common nowadays as startup dotcoms with toy websites were a decade ago.

What hath Bob wrought?

Working...