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Space Science

Bezos Discloses Failure of Blue Origin Rocket Test Flight 99

Posted by timothy
from the discovering-ways-not-to-make-lightbulbs dept.
astroengine writes "An experimental suborbital space vehicle developed by Blue Origin, a space startup founded by Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos, was lost during a test flight last week. During the secretive flight, the vehicle reached an altitude of 45,000 feet and attained a velocity of Mach 1.2. Soon after, things went horribly wrong. 'A flight instability drove an angle of attack that triggered our range safety system to terminate thrust on the vehicle,' said an upbeat Bezos in Friday's statement."
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Bezos Discloses Failure of Blue Origin Rocket Test Flight

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  • by roc97007 (608802) on Friday September 02, 2011 @09:54PM (#37293462) Journal

    > If private corporations were developing new technology on the edge of the unknown then I would agree. Unfortunately this is not new tech, this science, technology, and research has been around and in use for decades. Delays and failures such as this are a serious blow to the idea that we are ready for space flight based on the for profit model.

    Like many things, that's both true and untrue. You're right, the individual pieces are not new tech, and the purpose is also not new tech. If all it took is bolting the right parts together, then, well, anyone could do it, and we'd all have spaceships. The thing is, integrating a machine of that size and designed to work under those conditions is non-trivial even though it *has* been done before. If nothing else, it hasn't been done by this particular team, who has to learn all kinds of things like procurement, QA, integration and how to launch the thing. As we've learned from every space mission back to the 1960's, one error, one bad decision, anywhere in the process of component parts to launch, can result in a prang. Even when NASA does it. Most especially if a company does it who hasn't done it before. Creating and successfully launching a functional spaceship is a process. A really complicated process that's difficult to learn.

    So I contend that if they got up to 45K feet and a mach-and-a-half on their first try, that's pretty damned good for a newcomer.

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