Blue Origin Touches Down for the First Time
The Blue Origin booster lands for the first time in West Texas.
On April 2, 2016, Blue Origin, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ space company, successfully reused the same booster for the third time to send a rocket to space. This remarkable feat, which is becoming more and more common with both Blue Origin and SpaceX, signifies a giant shift in rocketry because it dramatically reduces the cost needed to get people or supplies into orbit. For Blue Origin, the cargo will mainly be wealthy tourists who want to gaze at the stars from outside Earth’s atmosphere. So, if you want to go to space and you’re not an astronaut, you’ll probably have to pay Bezos for the privilege, but what should you expect? Well, fear not, weary space traveler, we’ve made a play-by-play with images to ensure you’re ready for your launch day. Here we go!
We Have Ignition
The first thing to happen, after you board, will be the New Shepard booster roaring to life, getting ready to shoot you into outer space. This is pretty typical of any rocket launch (obviously). The weird thing is that the New Shepard booster is probably on its second or third flight, which is why your ride into space wasn’t more expensive to book. Don’t worry, though, it’ll still be expensive. Good thing your a wealthy rocketeer.
The start of the ascent toward the heavens. Hold on tight.
Liftoff From Afar
A beautiful shot of Blue Origin taking to the skies with the West Texas landscape sprawling in the distance. (Click to enlarge the picture to fully appreciate it!)
Your View From the Capsule
This is what it would look like from inside the capsule atop Blue Origin (if there are windows). Essentially, it would appear like you are on an insanely fast elevator to the sky: a space elevator.
Goodbye, New Shepard
As you continue to rise, the landscape will slip out from under you. The capsule you’re in will separate from the booster rocket just like any other launch. (Remember this from the Space Shuttle days? Those were the best!) You will continue to soar upwards, giving you this impressive view of the New Shepard falling back to Earth.
Welcome to Space!
This will be your view at the top of your ascent. This picture was taken roughly 307,000 feet above the ground. That’s 58 miles up! You’re officially in space. This is what you paid for.
The Return Home
After you enjoy your breathtaking view of our planet, your capsule will fall back to the ground with a parachute to touch down in Texas!
New Shepard Touches Down
While you’re floating back down, the booster rocket that took you up will land on a landing pad. This is the truly innovative part of the whole ordeal because it allows Blue Origin to reuse their boosters over and over again, dramatically reducing costs and waste. This process starts 3,635 feet above the Earth’s surface, but you’ll be too busy falling back down to notice it.
A rapid descent from the Earth’s atmosphere needs to slow dramatically to ensure the booster doesn’t, you know, smash into the planet. Also, using a series of throttling techniques, the slow descent near the ground allows the team to control exactly where the booster will touch down. After all, you wouldn’t want a stream of fire blasting away something important.
All Said and Done
After landing at roughly five miles per hour, the booster cools while you get out of your capsule with a great story to tell. This booster will get taken back to Blue Origin HQ to get cleaned up and prepped for another launch. You’re mission to space is all done! Congratulations!