Space exploration used to be the stuff of dreams. Something out of the ordinary, something exciting, that stirred the imagination. It meant NASA programs that made the news. It also meant world firsts and bold moves.
But now flying into space has lost some of its magic. Commercial space travel has become part of the world of business. Just another sector that delivers services.
And it looks like the sector is only going to grow. With our reliance on communication, the demand for satellite services is growing. And with that the demand for rockets to put them into orbit.
Several years ago private enterprise in the domain of spaceflight was reserved for very few. Now there is growing interest and it is seen as an investment opportunity. So it looks like SpaceX is going to have competition on its hands. In the area of launching satellites into orbit. And commercial space travel.
It is still for the daring to invest in the sector. It is a high-risk business, with many things that could go wrong. And when they do, they go awfully wrong.
Just like the recent SpaceX explosion at Cape Canaveral showed. It is now in the process of a federal investigation into what happened. And has to rebuild its Launchpad. In the meantime, the schedule of planned launches is on hold. Affecting even a NASA mission that will probably have to be postponed.
SpaceX remains confident however that it is going to bounce back from the unfortunate event.
But the recent event in the world of private spaceflight did not deter some. Possessing more courage and optimism than others, entrepreneurs still choose to venture into the market.
Blue Origin is the private spaceflight company of entrepreneur and billionaire Jeff Bezos. And, yes, it just looks like the market is dominated by companies led by strong personalities.
This morning the company announced that they have something new and exciting in development. A family of rockets that will be developed by engineers of the company. Following SpaceX’s model of reusing Falcon 9, the rocket will be reusable and will take part in many missions. Blue Origins plans to use these rockets to launch satellites. And, also, to take people into space.
The rocket is going to be called New Glenn. The name is after John Glenn. He was the first American to be on the orbit of Earth.
There will be two-stage and three-stage versions of the rocket. Both versions are still going to be taller than the Falcon Heavy that SpaceX uses. And than Delta IV Heavy that United Launch Alliance uses. The three-stage version is almost as big as NASA’s Saturn V. A spacecraft that is part of spaceflight history for helping take humans to the moon.
The design of the spacecraft takes much from experience at Blue Origin with New Shepard. New Shepard is a reusable booster. It was launched into suborbital space and it landed four times successfully back on Earth. It is scheduled for another test soon.
Image source: Wikipedia.