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
Lexile

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," said Jeff Bezos in a statement.  He is founder of the company Blue Origin and also 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. The company 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.  It was at its site in Van Horn in West Texas. The secretive company is based in Kent, Washington.  The company 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.  Then it 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. The rocket was still standing up, the company said.
 
"It's really a major step forward toward reusability," said John M. Logsdon. He is professor emeritus at the George Washington University's Space Policy Institute. 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 (72)
  • adamc-ali
    12/02/2015 - 11:54 a.m.

    Rockets are cost lots of money and we shouldn't make more

  • adamc-ali
    12/02/2015 - 11:56 a.m.

    rockets are lots of money and we shouldn't buy them anymore.

  • caitlynk-2-bar
    12/02/2015 - 07:58 p.m.

    A reusable rocket is both rare and desirable because in the contect it states "Reusing rockets, rather than discarding them, would be a big step toward making space flight less pricey." This is why a reusable rocket is desired, and later in the text is states, "Another private company, SpaceX, has tried to land boosters upright on a barge in the ocean. So far, it has failed." This passage tells the reader how difficult it is to create technology that is programed to do stuff like make a reusable rocket. This article was interesting to me because one day I would like to be an engineer and it cool to see what people can make and improve on thing that had already existed. I found this article surprising because I find it strange that this topic has not come up sooner.

  • EH-Fuh
    12/03/2015 - 11:42 a.m.

    It is rare because it is very complicated to land it standing up. It is deseriable because it can save tons of money and time.

  • carterm-hor
    12/03/2015 - 01:19 p.m.

    The authors purpose in this article was to inform is about the ground breaking performance of landing a rocket safely back to the ground. What I learned was that they fired up their engines at 4,900ft so that they would then descend at only 4.4 mph to the ground. Also, they landed the rocket safely back down from 62 miles high in the air! I agree with the opinions in this article because they stated that this would make space flight less expensive. I also think that it would make it less expensive because they wouldn't have to build a new rocket, and they could just reuse the same one again.

  • zeusr-3-bar
    12/03/2015 - 08:57 p.m.

    Using a reusable rocket is both rare and desirable because it can be reused for another project so it's desirable.It's rare because it's actually reusable

  • lucasl-3-bar
    12/03/2015 - 08:58 p.m.

    Reusable rockets are rare because it is very difficult and requires complex machinery to land gently enough so that they can be used again. They are desirable to use because using rockets multiple times reduces costs, materials used, and build times when compared to rockets that can only be safely used once. The article was interesting because it gave information on a large and interesting topic. This topic is likely to become more relevant and important to people as technology develops.

  • aidanp-1-bar
    12/03/2015 - 09:41 p.m.

    When commercial space flight becomes a reality in the future, it will be far too expensive to lose spaceships and too long to build. If space companies can save all of that boosters and other parts of the ships, all they will have to do is refuel and go again.

  • jilliand-3-bar
    12/04/2015 - 01:18 a.m.

    A reusable rocket is both rare and desirable because it is very difficult to land a rocket upright and gently, and it is less expensive. In paragraph four, the text says,"Another private company, SpaceX, has tried to land boosters upright on a barge in the ocean, but so far, has failed." Since other companies have also tried this technique, but not succeeded, it shows that it is very hard to land a rocket so that it is reusable. I thought this article was interesting because I did not think it was possible to reuse a rocket.

  • noahf-3-bar
    12/04/2015 - 01:56 a.m.

    A reusable rocket is rare due to the very difficult engineering feat that is required to make such a rocket. A reusable rocket is desirable due to the fact it could help make space flight a fraction of the cost it is currently. I found this article interesting because I didn't know about reusable rockets before I read this article.

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