suborbital space

Marking its first public appearance since retirement, Blue Origin’s New Shepard booster appeared at the MARS 2017 conference in Boston this week. The rocket made five suborbital flights into space between November 2015 and October 2016 before being retired.

Held annually in Boston, the Machine-Learning Automation, Robotics & Space Exploration, or MARS conference, is an invite-only tech show hosted by Amazon.com. Blue Origin’s founder, Jeff Bezos, also created Amazon and acts as its CEO.

P/C: Christian Davenport

Finally

Rocket reuse to space has happened. Blue Origin has successfully flown their New Shepard rocket (the same one that flew to space a few months ago) above the Karman Line (boundary of space).

The crucial idea is that they are helping to prove that we don’t need to build a new rocket every time we launch, which is a huge reason why travel to space is so incredibly pricey.

Another key concept is that this rocket only goes suborbital. Their rivals also working towards reusability are SpaceX, whose rockets are going into orbital space.

(Image credit: Blue Origin)

Apollo-Saturn 201 (AS-201), the first Saturn IB launch vehicle developed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:12 a.m. on Feb. 26, 1966. The AS-201 mission was an unmanned suborbital flight to test the Saturn 1B launch vehicle and the Apollo Command and Service Modules. This was the first flight of the S-IB and S-IVB stages, including the first flight test of the liquid-hydrogen/liquid oxygen-propelled J-2 engine in the S-IVB stage. During the thirty-seven minute flight, the vehicle reached an altitude of 303 miles and traveled 5,264 miles downrange.

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Copenhagen Suborbitals BPM2 engine test

At certain airline-friendly altitudes, the atmosphere blocks less of the radiation bullshit that space and our own sun throw at us. Experts state that normal fliers “probably” don’t have much to worry about, but pilots, airplane personnel, and hardcore frequent fliers who might be looking at a fistful of cellular fuckery somewhere down the line. Thing is, suborbital space travel is coming faster than you think, both as a space tourism experience and as a super-fast travel method. And there’ll be almost zero safety track record when you buy that economy class ticket on American Suborbital 357 to go visit your friend in Murmansk.

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