The man who wants drones to deliver toothpaste to your doorstep just made headway on one of his other goals: commercial space travel.
Blue Origin, the private space company founded by Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, on Thursday launched its first test flight of its New Shepard space vehicle from Van Horn, Texas. The company's goal is to offer sub-orbital flights so passengers can experience weightlessness and see Earth from a distance of more than 50 miles (80 km).
"The in-space separation of the crew capsule from the propulsion module was perfect," Bezos said in a statement on the company's website, inviting people to sign up for reservations. "Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return."
A goal of commercial space carriers such as Blue Origin and rival billionaire space pioneer Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is to reuse components that usually burn up in space travel, which would significantly reduce the costs of each flight.
That didn't go as well for Blue Origin.
"Of course one of our goals is re-usability, and unfortunately we didn't get to recover the propulsion module because we lost pressure in our hydraulic system on descent," Bezos said. "Assembly of propulsion module serial numbers 2 and 3 is already underway – we'll be ready to fly again soon."
SpaceX, which also launched unmanned flights this year, has had similar trouble recovering rockets.