DailyDirt: Who Wants To Go To Space?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Reusable rocket technology has been a 'holy grail' of sorts for space exploration. Building reusable components is supposed to make space travel more affordable, but the Space Shuttle is the prime example of how that's not necessarily true, as it cost over an order of magnitude more than originally planned. Still, it should be possible to make reusable rockets that are cheaper to operate, and some private companies are figuring out how to do it. SpaceX hasn't quite gotten reusable rockets perfected yet (though, it has done it more than a few times with its Grasshopper vehicle). And depending on how you define a "rocket" -- Virgin Galactic & Scaled Composites have also developed reusable space vehicles. After you've finished checking out those links, check out this holiday gift guide for some awesome deals at the Techdirt deals store.
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Filed Under: elon musk, grasshopper, jeff bezos, jules verne, kennedy space center, konstantin tsiolkovsky, new shepard, re-usable rockets, robert goddard, rockets, space, space exploration, suborbital, william leitch
Companies: blue origin, nasa, spacex

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  1. icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), 28 Nov 2015 @ 12:14pm

    The Space Race

    The shuttle was not really a re-usable space vessel, because the boosters (what really provides the motion) were discarded in stages. What SpaceX and Blue Origin are working on are vessels where 100% of the vessel is re-usable, and only fuel is expended. Very different.

    Also, Blue Origin and SpaceX are doing VERY different kinds of trips into space:

    - Blue Origin is basically a bottle rocket: it goes straight up, enters the edge of "space", then falls back down.

    - SpaceX does the same as Blue Origin, but then ALSO accelerates the craft horizontally to a speed of 8 Km/s or about 18,000 miles per hour. That's 18,000 miles per hour FASTER than Blue Origin - not an insignificant difference when it comes to how much energy is needed. The energy is a factor of about 30x.

    Blue Origin, in it's current model, does not and cannot launch anything into an orbit. It's more like this:
    Which is cool for a brief space travel with a short period of weightlessness. At the top of the flight, the force of gravity is still about the same as on earth's surface, and speed is 0. Free fall down occurs.

    In contrast, in a Low Earth Orbit from SpaceX vessels, the force of gravity remains about the same as on earth, but the free fall is never-ending because the 8km/s lateral speed means that the upward component of your lateral motion exactly offsets the downward motion of your free fall. aka orbit.

    So, while Blue Origin may someday also do LEO flights, for now they are dealing with a challenge that is 30x less energy intensive, as compared to SpaceX.

    And, yeah, I'm a total Musk fanboy. 100%. I've never fanboyed anyone in five decades, and I've chosen him to start. Totes better than Bieber.

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