Perhaps one of the biggest hurdles of getting people into space is the cost. Whether it’s the long tried and true method of blasting astronauts off from the Earth and sending them to the Moon or the International Space Station, or the new endeavors of U.S. companies to create commercial flight equipment capable of taking everyday tourists into space for the experience, cost has always been a huge factor.
The number of companies expressing interest in space fare is growing. Although it won’t be cheap during the initial runs, as the technology Is very much new and untested, these companies know that people want to get into space to know what it’s like, and they’re 100% ready to monetize it.
World View Enterprises recently made a scale-model test launch of its commercial balloon spacecraft, but it’s nowhere near as impressive as this recent test launch made by Blue Origin, a full-size reusable hydrogen-powered rocket owned by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com.
"You've seen a lot of rockets take off in your time, but you've never seen one land," Bezos told CBS News. "The rocket you see behind me is completely reusable. That's a game changer, because it changes the cost structure of space travel completely."
This rocket can not only take passengers into space, but it’s reusable. Once the spacecraft itself is delivered to space, almost 330,000 feet in the air, the rocket falls back to Earth, and then something amazing happens – it lands itself upright with advanced auto-stabilizing rocket booster technology, such that it can be retrieved and reused. The rocket controls itself without any human intervention during the entire process.
The rocket was test-launched on Monday from its test site in Texas at 12:21 P.M. Eastern time, and after it did what it had to do, it came back down to Earth, where it would peacefully land 11 minutes later at 12:32 P.M. Eastern time. You can watch it all go down in the video below:
The spacecraft that it delivered to space was returned to Earth by way of parachutes, much like the World View Enterprises spacecraft would be, but the fact that the rocket itself that was used to send it there can be re-used is a huge advancement in technology that could change the space playing field for the better in the foreseeable future.
Not only does a reusable rocket mean fewer expenses in rockets, but it means the only things that have to be done are routine maintenance and keeping the fuel levels topped off. After that, it’s just a matter of attaching the spacecraft so that passengers can use it to get a glimpse of the Earth from up above.
Such technology would be useful not only for space fare, but also for future manned missions into space. Reusable rockets will save space agencies a ton of money, and make it possible to accomplish more on the same budget. Other companies, including Elon Musk-owned SpaceX, which recently signed an agreement with NASA to send astronauts to the International Space Station, are also working on similar technology.