Other Priorities: Another Launch Today – Blue Origin Reusable Rocket

Hurry, we’re less than three minutes from launch, all systems go. I’ll add more remarks in a moment.

11:20 a.m. EDT — Wow. What a picture-perfect launch and landing. This is the most excitement out of West Texas since some lousy bird hunter shot his friend in the face a few years back. Today’s mission by Blue Origin, an aerospace company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, had several objectives. The reusable rocket’s fourth mission included testing of backup and safety systems intended for future manned flights as well as multiple scientific project payloads. At least one project required the microgravity conditions (video) this mission would realize as the ship approached, reached, and left apogee at 331,501 feet (roughly shy of 63 miles above earth).

I’ve replaced the live feed of the mission with a video summary of the same New Shepherd rocket’s third flight from April this year. Compare and contrast with Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s recent reusable rocket launches; I am completely in awe of SpaceX’s attempts to stick a landing repeatedly on a puny drone raft at sea. (Video embedded here is from SpaceX launch last Wednesday carrying Eutelsat/ABS telecommunications satellites.)

If we have to endure gross inequality and a siphoning plutocracy, this space race is the kind of crazy oligarchs’ spending I love to see. Granted, Bezos is probably checking out future warehousing for Amazon facilities in space, crewed by robots — there’s no rent in space, right? But the opportunities for aerospace development and accessibility to the public have increased greatly with these two companies working fast and hard on this implicit competition. They also offer opportunities for us to save costs on government-funded missions — SpaceX has already won contracts formerly awarded to companies with an oligopolistic hold on launches.

I still want NASA to do all this and more as well; space shouldn’t be the domain of corporations after all. But if NASA has to work with fewer resources thanks to anti-science GOP-led Congress, at least they have a much larger hiring pool of experts to drawn from when they look for aerospace folks to add to their team, thanks to Blue Origin and SpaceX.

Explaining his refusal to serve in the military, that aforementioned sloppy hunter who shot his friend in the face said he had other priorities. It’s amazing in contrast what other rich guys do with their other priorities.

Jeff Bezos had one helluva Father’s Day already. Hope yours is just as exciting.

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, geek since birth. Opinions informed by mixed-race, multi-ethnic, cis-female condition, further shaped by kind friends of all persuasions. Sci-tech frenemy, wannabe artist, decent cook, determined author, successful troublemaker. Mother of invention and two excessively smart-assed young adult kids. Attended School of Hard Knocks; Rather Unfortunate Smallish Private Business School in Midwest; Affordable Mid-State Community College w/evening classes. Self-employed at Tiny Consulting Business; previously at Large-ish Chemical Company with HQ in Midwest in multiple marginalizing corporate drone roles, and at Rather Big IT Service Provider as a project manager, preceded by a motley assortment of gigs before the gig economy was a thing. Blogging experience includes a personal blog at the original blogs.salon.com, managing editor for a state-based news site, and a stint at Firedoglake before landing here at emptywheel as technology’s less-virginal-but-still-accursed Cassandra.
4 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    Wonderful. As someone who grew up with the original NASA programs, I am just flabbergasted by the ability of a private entity to, so quickly and capably, put together such an achievement. This truly is Progress at its best.

  2. Rayne says:

    bloopie2 (11:18) — I think all space projects piggyback if not leapfrog off the work of predecessors when their work is public and open. Both Blue Origin and SpaceX have surely relied on the work NASA did at a very minimum, making development easier and faster. What I’d like to see examined more closely is the effect of the Ansari X Prize (1996-2004) on reusable spacecraft on these two firms. Did funding a competition spur pace of development at all, or was it ineffective, or will X Prize’s effect not be clear for another decade?

    Definitely some of our best human progress — the proof of ABS’ telecom sat’s operation within the last couple minutes of the SpaceX video is awesome. Just minutes before we are watching a reusable rocket on the ground and *presto* we have an incredibly clear selfie of earth from space. Hope we can continue to slide projects on climate change, earth and space science into space through these companies as Blue Origin did, getting around the stranglehold fossil fuel industry has on GOP-portion of Congress. We aren’t going to save mankind fast enough by relying on space as an exit strategy; we need to rely on space to develop the means to save humanity’s place of origin RTFN.

  3. Bardi says:

    67 statute miles was the maximum altitude reached by the X-15 way in 1968. Of course it only had room for one person and needed a B-52 to help it get aloft.

  4. person1597 says:

    The dedicated scientists and engineers who make rockets fly (and return intact) are pushing the envelope. It takes bucks to make Buck Rodgers go forth and multiply. Congratulations, indeed!

    It is nice to see what humans can do when given the mandate. That said, it will be even more amazing when we understand that space is not the only final frontier. There is more to life than baryonic matter.

    Biological consciousness challenges the inquiring mind to explore itself. What mysteries remain to be discovered? Plenty! There can, and will be a coherent explanation once we understand the myriad filed constructs made by ions and electrons as they pass through the cellular channels, entangled and distributed throughout the corporeal being. Wild stuff!

    Also, too, consciousness beckons us acknowledge our role as agents of chaos and disorder.

    One posits that disruptive innovation, creative destruction and enabling technology combine in ways that deliver the winning edge in the competition for future history.

    All in the quest for continuity and procreative legacy. What fun!

    Life is extremely challenging. It started with a spark and has never looked back.

    Thanks Big Guy!

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