July 6, 2006

Awesome, awesome...

Finally we find out something about the mysterious Blue Origins..

The public space travel business is picking up suborbital speed thanks to a variety of private rocket groups and their dream machines.

Joining the mix is Blue Origin's New Shepard Reusable Launch System. It is financially fueled by an outflow of dollars from the deep pockets of billionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com...

Having these proud-as-Lucifer dot-commers competing with each other to get into orbit is just too utterly cool. "Last guy into space is a girl!" But what really interested me about Blue Origin is this:

...Blue Origin's spaceship is patterned after Department of Defense/NASA work on the single-stage vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing Delta Clipper Experimental (DC-X) and Delta Clipper Experimental Advanced (DC-XA). It was repeatedly flown in 1993-1996 at the U.S. Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Among a list of distinctions, a 26-hour turnaround was achieved between the DC-XA's second and third flights - a first for any rocket. The flight program ended in July 1996 with the DC-XA suffering severe damage due to a landing strut – one of four—that failed to extend. The unbalanced vehicle tipped over on its landing pad and caught fire. Due to lack of follow-up money, the program was ended....

Delta Clipper was one of those might-have-beens that just breaks your heart. The wretched Shuttle sucks up millions of dollars a day even when, as usual, it's not flying at all. DC cost nothing in comparison, but died for lack of funds. And lack of interest on the part of the commissars.

And now Delta clipper rises again! Yay!

Delta Clipper experimental rocket
Delta Clipper. Image from space.com

Posted by John Weidner at July 6, 2006 10:35 AM
Weblog by John Weidner