A spacecraft funded by Amazon head Jeff Bezos lost control during a test flight and was destroyed, the Wall Street Journal reports. Blue Origin, a commercial space company Bezos funds, is believed to have launched and lost the unmanned craft on August 24th. In a letter written by Bezos and published on Blue Origin’s website Friday, the Internet billionaire said that his team “lost the vehicle during a developmental test at Mach 1.2 and an altitude of 45,000 feet,” and that this was “Not the outcome any of us wanted.” Blue Origin reportedly has another craft they plan on conducting tests with. In related news, you have all bought enough crap on Amazon for Jeff Bezos to own two spaceships.
Blue Origin’s ship is unique because it takes off and lands vertically; imagine playing a video of a rocket taking off, then reversing it so it appears to come back to earth standing straight up.
NASA works with Blue Origin as part of the space agency’s support of commercial ventures to assist with their own missions. Despite the crash, NASA and Blue Origin are still cool:
The latest event isn’t expected to have a direct impact on Blue Origin’s access to federal dollars, government officials said, because the test didn’t rely on federal funds and wasn’t part of the company’s development agreement with NASA.
The private sector appears to be hosting a three-company space race between aeronautical programs sponsored by a mega-rich entropaneurs: Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and Blue Origin. It’s a Libertarian’s astro-dream (except for the NASA helping out part).
Unfortunately, the free market seems to be having trouble with gravity: All three programs have suffered setbacks and space tourism is behind schedule.