While Elon Musk may be making the most headlines with his space race ambitions, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is also looking to make some waves in space. This Saturday, Bezos is set to test his reusable rocket for its third launch under his “Blue Origin” program. The key here is the fact that this particular rocket is actually reusable and this will mark its third launch.
Many of the rockets designed by NASA were in-fact single use. Reusable rockets, however, should help lower costs in terms of materials and construction. Creating rockets that can successfully propel objects into space and then survive the subsequent descent back to Earth, however, is not easy.
The so-called New Shepard rocket should reach sub-orbital space tomorrow, assuming everything goes right. Essentially, a rocket will boost its payload into orbit, then drag brags will slow its descent back to Earth. On the way down the engines will relight, and slow the rocket’s descent even further. Then, the rocket will perform a booster landing.
The New Shepard rocket became the first booster rocket to reach space and then successfully conduct a ‘soft landing’ in November of 2015. This marks a huge milestone as reusable rockets could dramatically cut space exploration costs.
New Privatized Space Race Could Reshape Exploration
SpaceX, the space project under Tesla founder Elon Musk, is also working to develop reusable rockets. The reliance on private sector companies is part of NASA’s efforts to lower costs and inject market efficiency in space exploration. Given the high costs of developing rockets, and the high risks of failure, billionaires such as Musk and Bezos have been among the few to jump in with significant funds.
With the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States having long thawed, there’s less of a national priority on space exploration, but efforts remain on-going none the less.