Science

After the crash of the Blue Origin rocket, Jeff Bezos’ space program came to a halt.

Just one minute and four seconds after takeoff, just as Blue Origin reached maximum pressure, the launcher veered off course, its engines on fire, before pitifully crashing a few kilometers further, “into the danger zone” — wrote l.American Civil Aviation Regulator, FAA. There are no photos from the event.

The good news is that the crew capsule ejected without difficulty, projecting at an impressive speed. Her parachutes deployed and she returned to earth just over seven minutes after the accident. Not very straight, true, but without damage. It has been restored and should serve again.

There was no astronaut on board, it was an unmanned flight that was to be used for scientific projects, some of which were funded by NASA: among other things, an experiment with artificial intelligence to record suborbital data or test how beeswax can be made. in space to create cleaner engines.

These kinds of accidents are extremely rare. At least for this New Shepard program, which also sends tourists into space and is said to be extremely reliable. Thus, this was his 23rd mission, and so far all launchers could be recovered and reused after the capsules were sent on a suborbital flight (a hundred kilometers away) without any problems. In any case, no one expected this flight to go to hell…

This is a real blow to the company of the founder of Amazon, which could compromise his ambitions to send more and more people into space. The US Civil Aviation Regulator (FAA) has banned further takeoffs until engineers can identify and correct the cause of the malfunction.

However, for more than a year, Blue Origin has been making money on manned flights. The New Shepard program has already flown 31 tourists into space (including the actor playing the iconic Captain Kirk from William Shatner’s Star Trek series) aboard six different flights lasting between 10 and 15 minutes each. Jeff Bezos himself took advantage of this in 2021. In early August, the company successfully sent the first Egyptian and the first Portuguese into space. The ticket price was not announced, but not less than $200,000.

Obviously, this stop will please the main rival of Jeff Bezos Elon Musk at the head of SpaceX. Two men, two mbillionaires with egos as disproportionate as their projects are pursuing the same dream: to live in space forever. Elon Musk, who, oddly enough, did not have a mocking word about his unfortunate rival on the network this time.

In 2021, NASA has chosen SpaceX to build a lander that will take the next American astronauts to the moon. Juicy contract for 2.9 billion dollars. This did not sit well with Jeff Bezos, who filed the complaint. Unsuccessfully. Knowing this, E.Ion Musk compared his rival’s grounded rockets and erection problems (“Can’t lift (to orbit)”, “He can’t lift (to put into orbit)”).

However, Jeff Bezos can console himself: he has other projects, at least two of which are much more ambitious than suborbital flights. In his crates is still the design of the new New Glenn rocket, which it will be able to support in orbit around the Earth.

And the construction site of its own space station Orbital Reef, almost as big as the International Space Station (ISS), which is due to retire in the early 2030s and is designed to accommodate up to 10 passengers, astronauts, explorers, tourists, businessmen or filmmakers. NASA has given the green light, the project is in the design phase.

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