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," 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)
  • haydennoly-
    12/04/2015 - 09:42 a.m.

    Money is everything. A plus for reusable rockets now you don't have to worry about finding a place to put the rocket you can just use it again.

    CTQ A reusable rocket is rare for the fact that rockets can now land upright like how they were before they even took off. usually rockets just crash land.

  • tylerb-hor
    12/04/2015 - 10:20 a.m.

    The author's purpose upon writing this article was to inform the reader about how Blue Origin was able to fly a model airplane up very high into the air and safely/gently land it upright without damaging the plane. I have learned that it's very hard to gently land an airplane upright without any damage to it. The author didn't clearly make any opinions but you could tell that he was very impressed and very interested in this. I agree with him because it's a very important scientific breakthrough could end up saving space stations and other companies millions of dollars because they wouldn't have to get new aircraft for each and every new flight.

  • kieranz1-hor
    12/04/2015 - 10:29 a.m.

    I believe the authors purpose of writing this article was to inform people of the future of commercial space flight. I learned that I may be possible to reuse rockets for commercial flight. I agree that it may be possible to reuse rockets multiple times.

  • clintonmoly-
    12/04/2015 - 01:12 p.m.

    This is a really cool that now space crafts can be reused instead if just leaving them to rot. This will also save lots of tax payers money.

  • michaely-6-bar
    12/04/2015 - 08:38 p.m.

    Reusable rockets are both rare and desirable because you don't just throw the rocket away like a normal rocket. I think this is amazing because you can keep using the rocket over and over again unless it lands wrong. That means they could get a lot of sponsers to support there reusable rocket idea.

  • batiar-3-bar
    12/04/2015 - 09:33 p.m.

    A reusable rocket is both rare and desirable because of the money saved when using it multiple times. At the end of this article Logsdon says "The goal here is low-cost reusability," be being able to use the rocket multiple times is a great new invention to save money. Logsdon also says "Although NASA space shuttles were also reusable after returning to Earth safely, they were far more expensive than rockets," hopefully this will be able to help create more rockets to go up into orbit. I found this article very surprising because I not only thought NASA would be the first to make this but that it has actually happened. I wonder if this new advancement will help the world discover new facts about space because we will be able to send more rockets while saving money and look beyond what we've ever done before. This article interested me and has me more intrigued with space and what it takes for companies to learn new things and make new advancements about it.

  • sergiom1-hor
    12/05/2015 - 06:42 p.m.

    The author's purpose in writing this article is to inform his/her readers about the new reusable rockets invented by the secretive company Blue Origin. I learned that reusable rockets are actually less expensive than NASA's reusable space shuttles. The whole passage is pretty easy to agree with, as all the information is solid, with evidence to back up all of the statements made, but I especially agree with John M. Logsdon's claim. He went on to say that the reusable rockets made by Blue Origin are "a major step foward towards reusability." I agree with this statement strongly because the rockets are cheaper than NASA's reusable space shuttles, and apparently, it's very hard to make successful reusable rockets (as proved by SpaceX's failed attempts to do so before).

  • laneys-1-ols
    12/07/2015 - 12:55 p.m.

    Reuseable rockets are rare and desirable because usually they desend and land some where and pollute earth. They are desirable because they don't have to spend more money on the rocket.

  • karlees-1-ols
    12/07/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    It is both rare and desirable, because normally rockets aren't allowed to be used again because of the impact when they hit Earth again. So that makes it both rare and desirable.

  • jasminpd-1-ols
    12/07/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    It is rare because we have never had a rocket that is still in good enough shape to use again. Rockets also cost a lot of money so we need to reuse it or recycle like we should do with other reusable items.

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