Reusable rocket returns upright In this photo provided by Blue Origin taken on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, an unmanned Blue Origin rocket blasts off in West Texas. (Blue Origin via AP)
Reusable rocket returns upright
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A private space company has announced that it landed a rocket upright and gently enough to be used again, a milestone in commercial aeronautics.
 
Reusing rockets, rather than discarding them, would be a big step toward making space flight less expensive.
 
The achievement produced "the rarest of beasts: a used rocket," Jeff Bezos, founder of the company Blue Origin, said in a statement. He is the CEO of Amazon.com Inc.
 
Another private company, SpaceX, has tried to land boosters upright on a barge in the ocean but so far has failed. It has recorded soft landings on the ground by rockets that flew less than a mile high, an altitude far lower than what the new test achieved.
 
Blue Origin said the unmanned flight took place in November at its site in Van Horn in West Texas. The secretive company, based in Kent, Washington, did not invite reporters to attend. Its first test flight happened in April.
 
Its New Shepard vehicle consists of a capsule that is designed to take people into space for suborbital flights someday, and a booster. In this flight, the booster soared about 62 miles high and released the capsule, which parachuted to the ground.
 
After the separation, the booster began falling back to Earth. It slowed its descent by firing its engine, starting at about 4,900 feet above ground. It was descending at just 4.4 mph when it touched down at the launch site, still standing up, the company said.
 
"It's really a major step forward toward reusability," John M. Logsdon, professor emeritus at the George Washington University's Space Policy Institute, said in an interview. Although NASA space shuttles were also reusable after returning to Earth safely, they were far more expensive than rockets, he noted.
 
"The goal here is low-cost reusability," Logsdon said.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is a reusable rocket both rare and desirable?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (13)
  • cesaro-ali
    12/02/2015 - 11:57 a.m.

    Nasa should be more careful of what are they going to do to rockets like not make them turn them around. And think what are they going to do now.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    12/02/2015 - 12:42 p.m.

    It is rare because it could get broken up in space and because they could lose parts but at the same time it is desirable because it would save a lot of money.

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    12/02/2015 - 04:02 p.m.

    Reusable rockets, that's something new. I would love to be able to go to space. If the landing is decent and our technology has advanced, maybe I would be able to carry out that dream.

  • kbeatty-cel
    12/04/2015 - 10:10 a.m.

    This is definitely newsworthy. It shows great advances with space travel and can save companies money. The lead starts out with who the article is about so you're not stuck trying to figure it out.

  • holdeno-3-bar
    12/04/2015 - 06:24 p.m.

    Reusable rockets are both rare and desirable because most spacecraft don't return to Earth safely. When discussing the pros of reusable rockets, the author says, "Reusing rockets, rather than discarding them [...] make[s] space flight less expensive" (par. 2) Most rocket engines crash-land to Earth, rendering them unusable. Reusable rockets then become rare, because of how few rockets there are that return to Earth safely. As a result, reusable rockets become desirable because it costs less to just refuel a rocket than to entirely build a new one.
    I was surprised by this article because it entailed unforeseen achievements in science.

  • kaelanr-pay
    12/08/2015 - 11:06 a.m.

    Throughout this article I have learned various things.I also the fact that a reusable rocket returned back to the earth upright. This shows different adaptations or innovations in science.

  • ivannac-pay
    12/08/2015 - 11:09 a.m.

    This is an amazing article. Being able to reuse rockets for other space missions is great. This way we can save tax money and be able to reuse rockets, not just throw them into the ocean or something. Also, another way i think they should be able to recycle is by melting or taking apart the rocket and reusing the parts that can still be used.

  • savanahg-pay
    12/08/2015 - 11:09 a.m.

    I think it's great that there is hope for a rocket to become reusable. It means less money for the equipment and more money for my college tuition. I still think reusing inner parts of the rocket, rather than the rocket itself, is a lot safer. This is great information though.

  • robertc-pay
    12/08/2015 - 11:11 a.m.

    This article is very interesting.I think the reusable is desirable because it is a new thing and it can save a lot of money.

  • graysone-pay
    12/08/2015 - 12:15 p.m.

    I believe that a reusable rocket is rare because everything needs to be on time. The parachute needs to release on time, the engine needs to start and stop at an exact time,etc.
    A reusable rocket is also desirable because as Malcolm Ritter states "Reusing rockets, rather than discarding them, would be a big step toward making space flight less pricey." I also thought that this truly is the next step from entering a new generation of space exploration.

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