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Amazon's Jeff Bezos Sets His Sights on the Stars

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the space-company-fad dept.

Space 123

An anonymous reader writes "Yahoo News is reporting that Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is looking to open a 'rocket-ship complex' for his new startup Blue Origin early next year. From the article: 'Blue Origin has released few details about the project. But a Texas newspaper editor who interviewed Bezos earlier this year said the billionaire talked [about] sending a spaceship into orbit that launches and lands vertically, like a rocket, and eventually building spaceships that can orbit the Earth -- possibly leading to permanent colonies in space.'"

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roses are red (-1, Troll)

pyro_dude (15885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341582)

the sky's blue

i got my barrel atcour neck so what the fuck you gonna do

heheh (2, Funny)

Keyframe2 (940074) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341593)

so amazon will have shipment to space? and cargo could be people?? nice :) DHL stock should rise on this one

Re:heheh (2, Interesting)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341784)

so amazon will have shipment to space? and cargo could be people?? nice :) DHL stock should rise on this one
Note that they do not guarantee the cargo hold is heated or pressurized, so I wouldn't ship anything with their service that does not react well to extreme cold or hard vacuum.

Trend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14344208)

I'm noticing a trend. A lot of wealthy people who got to where they are with a lot of creativity and imagination seem to want to go to space. Maybe they all watched Star Trek when they were small.

Jeff Bezos's Fatal Flaw (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14341594)

vagina!!! PENIS!!!!

Re:Jeff Bezos's Fatal Flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14341710)

Looks like Timmy added to his vocabulary on the playground today.

Is this okay? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14341597)

Sure, he's probably paying a load of money, but is this okay? What about pollution?

ok (3, Funny)

ikea5 (608732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341606)

I guess all his money is really disappearing into thin air.

Re:ok (1)

BadassJesus (939844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342031)

"money disappearing into thin air"

Exactly, see the difference between smart rich people like Gates, Jobs and these fortune by accident machos Allen and Bezos. They focus on investments that really matters or are very helpfull (Gates medicine/health money). Jobs made Pixar so big that even Disney was beggin for mercy.

Space exploration is not even close with the current state of technology. We will go to space easily with better tech in the future but not now. I am shorting Bezos and his company at the first sight of weakness.

Re:ok (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342245)

Don't count Paul Allen short. He left Microsoft early because of health reasons, otherwise the history of Microsoft might have been quite different. As a side effect, Allen has diversified his holdings instead of keeping nearly all his eggs in the Microsoft basket. In the end, I think he's the one with the right idea: if you can get a few billion of FU money, do something with it instead of wasting your life endlessly chasing for more. You'll never be able to spend it all but you can do a great deal of good with it.

Paul Allen probably is looked upon favourably by more people than Gates. While Bill Gates is better known, a lot of people hold at best mixed feelings about his achievements.

Re:ok (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342259)

Paul Allen probably is looked upon favourably by more people than Gates. While Bill Gates is better known, a lot of people hold at best mixed feelings about his achievements.

Paul Allen is probably completely unknown amongst most people. And most people look at Gates as "the richest man in the world" or "that guy who gave like, a billion dollars to fight AIDS in Africa" if they know who he is.

There are over 6 billion people in the world - most of them have likely never heard of either one, but if they have, it's likely Gates, and likely in conjunction with his vast wealth or his charitable giving.

Re:ok (3, Insightful)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342453)

Space exploration is not even close with the current state of technology. We will go to space easily with better tech in the future but not now. I am shorting Bezos and his company at the first sight of weakness.

Quite the condradiction, don't you think? I mean, how are you supposed to figure out what kinda tech you need for space flight unless you go and try it? And are we just supposed to casually develop tech for this? Much like the power industry is so focused on alternative power? (not!).

The simply truth is, necessity is the mother of invention. This seems like a chicken and the egg problem, but it isn't really. We need to get out there and look around, explore, experiment. Once we start doing this, we'll start solving problems. Once we start solving problems, things start to roll. Think about the evolution of boats.

There were probably civilizations full of people who completely disagreed with some of the people designing (bigger, faster, sturdier) boats thousands of years ago. Thinking there was no useful purpose of them, the naysays just sat around and bitched about how useless the boat-builders actions were. The same thing with the horseless carriage - we already have everything we want with horses - what possible good could the work you're doing be?

It's true that people like you need to exist statistically - the ones that bitch and point out all of the flaws in the useless shit dreamers talk about - so they probably don't even listen to you naysayers anymore - and for good reason. If people like you ran society, we probably wouldn't even have wheels because we've got enough people to haul those stone blocks the 80km they need to travel.

Fortunately for us, some people have imaginations.

Re:ok (1)

BadassJesus (939844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343304)

"how are you supposed to figure out what kinda tech you need for space flight unless you go and try it?"

You aren't a technician are you? Do you think that any of modern craft is built by "try and error"? All new commercial jets, cars and of course space crafts are designed and precisely tested on computers, before any part is assembled. You can simulate pretty much everything today, even dynamical models like fluid and air motion and all kinds of material interaction.

What we are lacking is a new technology that will jumps us into sub-orbital space and further without such an energy and resource waste. We need a new materials, some kind of a much effective engines, much more efficient fuel etc. and there may be other way to get there more easily and without rockets. Current state of technology like "Shuttle" is not suitable for commercial usage due to expensive "space" technology and materials used. Look on extreme cost of shuttle parts, reliablity and longevity of these.. Look at tons of inefficient fuel used. Look at that laughable "orbital stations" where they most of the time spend by monitoring hundreds of their unreliable parts, they are only surviving there and under extreme conditions. With such a technology all similar projects looks like one big money eating blackhole to me.

I may be wrong, but I feel pretty comfortable with my "short side" view of this whole venture.

Re:ok (1)

Puf_Almighty (904515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343861)

It's not that tech is developed by trial and error (at least, not since the good ol' days of hydrogen-filled zeppelins), but that tech is developed as a result of a demand for it. Advancements and developments come, not out of some intellectually-altruistic Drive To Acheive, but out of a need to solve a particular problem- from fish hooks, to nuclear missiles, tech is made as a response to a problem.

Look on extreme cost of shuttle parts, reliablity and longevity of these.. Look at tons of inefficient fuel used. Look at that laughable "orbital stations" where they most of the time spend by monitoring hundreds of their unreliable parts, they are only surviving there and under extreme conditions.
You're right. And it remains crappy so long as there is no market or demand for space exploration. Nobody's going to go around solving those problems unless there is, say, a billionaire funding the project and paying them to do so. And in the short term this will get people up there and looking around. Eventually we'll find something of value out there, that market will explode, and that technology will grow in the way that you're talking about. But until there's a market in it, any directional R&D needs an artificial infusion of cash to get this project done.
It's just like the Wright Brothers. Flight tech was shit, but they piddled around with it anyway, and now that the tech got rolling look at what we have today- the streamlined, high efficiency planes, perfectly suited to mass production and use (as opposed to our space ones) that we have today.

Patented Interface (5, Funny)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341626)

the billionaire talked [about] sending a spaceship into orbit that launches and lands vertically ...With just a single click.

Free Shipping? (1)

Jahaza (933245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343525)

How much does your order have to be for free shipping to space?

Re:Patented Interface (1)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 8 years ago | (#14344848)

Good morning, Jeff Bezos. Would you like to play a game?

And curse /. for not letting me post it in all caps =[

Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (4, Interesting)

komodotoes (939836) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341649)

With all of the talk lately about civilian space travel, I was wondering if anyone knew specifically how far national borders extend vertically. Obviously satellites orbit over foreign territories all the time, but if the goal is space colonization like everyone thinks, would an American colony be bound by law to be in a geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341709)

> With all of the talk lately about civilian space travel, I was
> wondering if anyone knew specifically how far national borders
> extend vertically.

100km.

> ...would an American colony be bound by law to be in a
> geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?

What a wonky idea! In any case, it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1, Informative)

Voltageaav (798022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341808)

The GOES weather sattillites are. One for the East, one for the West, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 356 days a year.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

kybred (795293) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341856)

The GOES satellites are in an equatorial orbit [nasa.gov] . they have a view of the US from there, but are not directly over the US.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14341900)

Well not exactly. As another poster noted, you cannot have a satellite in a geostationary orbit over the CONUS. By definition, a geostationary orbit is circular, at zero-degrees inclination relative to the equator. At no time does such an orbit pass over the US. In principal, a geosynchronous orbit (circular, but inclined relative to the equator) could result in a spacecraft producing a figure-eight or teardrop-shaped ground track that moved over the CONUS -- but the GOES birds are geostationary.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (5, Funny)

mr_mophead (886977) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342253)

Good to hear that our hard working satellites get a week or so off. Wouldn't want them getting burnt out.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (2, Insightful)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341821)

> ...would an American colony be bound by law to be in a
> geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?

What a wonky idea! In any case, it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.

for more info go here [celestrak.com] .

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

yanos (633109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342249)

>>> ...would an American colony be bound by law to be in a
>>> geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?

>> What a wonky idea! In any case, it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.

> for more info go here.

I think the GP wanted to say a geostationary orbit, witch is not possible over the US. From your link:

It should also be clear that it is not possible to orbit a satellite which is stationary over a point which is not on the equator.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343290)

We'll just have to annex Ecuador. Hey - bin laden is probably hiding there! yeah, that's the ticket!

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

mforbes (575538) | more than 8 years ago | (#14344506)

Nah, that wouldn't get us to invade Ecuador. Now, if they had oil & were also hiding Bin Laden....

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

Basehart (633304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343568)

Interesting read.

For some reason I always thought that we could put a satellite in a geostationary orbit above any point on the Earth's surface. Now I'm left wondering why only above the Equator.

No doubt it's something to do with gravity only stretching out far enough at the Equator to keep a grip on an object at the kind of distances required for such an orbit.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

PantsWearer (739529) | more than 8 years ago | (#14344885)

Actually, it's got nothing to do with how far gravity "stretches" (gravity gets weaker as distance increases by never goes away -- ignoring any other gravity fields, you could have an orbit of any distance). All circular orbits around the Earth have to be centered on the center of the Earth where it's center of gravity is. (Elliptical orbits and odd orbits that need to be continually corrected to be maintained are another story...)

An easy way to visualize this is to tie a weight to the end of a string and spin the weight around your hand in a circle. The weight is the satellite, your hand is the Earth, and the string is the force due to gravity. If you change the length of the string, the speed of the weight changes (it will be faster if it's a short string, slower if it's a long one). Now picture that your hand is also spinning around an axis and you want the same side of your hand to face the weight at all times. So the speed that the weight rotates around your hand has to be the same as the speed at which your hand rotates, which means the string can only be a certain length to achieve this.

So not only does the satellite have to be over the equator (since otherwise it would "wobble" above and below the equator toward the poles and thus not be geostationary), it has to be a certain distance from the Earth (the proper length of the string) so that it can be over the same point (rotating at the same speed).

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 8 years ago | (#14344887)

Oh, nothing so exotic. Consider: First, it is impossible to just orbit, say, the 49th parallel. This is due to the downward pull of gravity, which would 'straighten out' any such orbit. Second, a geosync orbit must have a horizontal trajectory which exactly matches the direction and speed of the earth's rotation. Put two and two together, and it should be pretty clear that geosync orbits can only occur at the equator.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341968)

What a wonky idea! In any case, it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.
Correct. Still, one could use thrusters to stay over the US. Clearly insane, but one can easily imagine reality-detached politicians voting in favour of such a law ;)

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

WoodieR (860635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343765)

10K for everyone else, but as far as the eye / telescope can see for the Americans

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

RosenSama (836736) | more than 8 years ago | (#14344866)

it is not possible for anything to be in geosynchronous orbit over the US.
That's such a great point, I had to go looking for a loop hole. It wouldn't be perfectly geostationary, but from what I understand, geostat orbits are usually small figure 8's straddling the equator. I think they could set one up so that the northern loop of the 8 passed just south of Baker Island [answers.com] and stayed within the US' contiguous zone [wikipedia.org] .

Baker Island is 13 minutes (lattitude, not time) north of the equator. That's just under 15 miles and the contiguous zone extends 24 miles, or 9 miles south of the equator. We setup our figure 8 so that it goes 8 miles north and south of the equator and assuming the figure 8 can be kept narrow enough, we're always over US territory.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341714)

would an American colony be bound by law to be in a geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times?

Also, a geosynchronous orbit is necessarily located above the equator. Any country that doesn't own a part of the equator can't have a geosynchronous satellite above their heads.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1, Funny)

gumpish (682245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341776)

Also, a geosynchronous orbit is necessarily located above the equator. Any country that doesn't own a part of the equator can't have a geosynchronous satellite above their heads.

Guess it's time for us to liberate South America.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

adorai (870142) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342045)

Uh, what's "troll" about this comment? I'd mod it funny!

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

ThoreauHD (213527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341961)

In all vessels, whether they be fishing boats or airplanes or space craft, they must follow maritime law. Which means this. The captain is God and you are nothing. His word is law. Heirarchy and order are paramount.

If you are in space or international waters or any unclaimed region, the captain should adhere to the laws thereof- but whether he does or not doesn't matter to you because you have no say and no authority. Consider each vessel a floating country unto itself, to get an idea of what it's about. Because in the end, it is. There is nothing between you and death but yourself and your captain. That is why you are physically and legally sovereign. That is why they have programming Indian slave ships off the coast of California. Because they cannot be touched.

Dear passengers, the space station is now entering (1, Offtopic)

RedLaggedTeut (216304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342009)

Dear passengers, the space station is now entering Iranian outer space.

Would the ladies please cover their face and the men pray. We will be leaving Iranian outer space in 6 minutes and will enter the Turkish outer space, where you will receive instructions and the proper customs forms.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

IamZed (819653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342412)

Would an American colony be bound by law to be in a geosynchronous orbit over the U.S at all times? Yes. That's why we are going to conquer, uh, liberate Ecuador.

Re:Foreign airspace (spacespace?) (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343017)

As high as your missles can go.

Private funding of space travel is more ethical (5, Interesting)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341655)

I like this as an example of privately funded space exploration technology development. All of the participants in this adventure, from fund providers to astronauts, will be associated with the project on a voluntary basis. In the alternative model of publicly funded space exploration, taxpayers are coerced into funding the project and yet they do not exercise any real influence or control over the bureacracy that runs the program. The private model is based on voluntary association. The public model requires coerced association. Therefore, I conclude that the private model has a higher moral foundation.

Re:Private funding of space travel is more ethical (2, Interesting)

massivefoot (922746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341713)

I disagree. The very nature of all government projects is that the entire population of the nation is associated with them. I may not particularly agree with my my nation's current use of its military, but as a member of a democracy, we make decisions as a mass. Frankly, I believe space exploration is far too important to be left to private companies. Sure, they can freely join in, but they are going to be looking for a profit. If there was a privtely owned space station in orbit instead of the ISS, would they be doing science, or giving trips to rich tourists?

Re:Private funding of space travel is more ethical (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341861)

Your argument is that things that are important to society should not be left to private companies. Let's apply that argument to some other examples. Would you say the same about development of standards for the WWW? It seems to me that voluntary associations of private companies for developing WWW standards has led to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs in ways that the government never imagined. I think the same thing is possible with space exploration.

private == for-proft + non-profit groups (4, Interesting)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341972)

Frankly, I believe space exploration is far too important to be left to private companies.

I disagree. Air transporation and food production are also quite important, and yet we seem to be doing fine with them being handled by private industry. Of course, there's government interference in those industries, but whether or not such interference is necessary is an argument for another day.

You, like many others, also seem to be making an assumption that all private groups are also for-profit, which is false. Non-profit groups engage in research and exploration as well, and I hope we'll see them engage in more space exploration as launch prices decrease.

For example, AMSAT [amsat.org] has launched a number of amateur radio satellites. The Planetary Society (attempted) to launch the first solar sail, funded by member donations. Elon Musk [wikipedia.org] started up a self-funded project to put an experimental greenhouse on Mars, but decided it would be better for now to focus on reducing launch costs via his SpaceX company -- hopefully he'll pursue the greenhouse project again in the future.

If there was a privtely owned space station in orbit instead of the ISS, would they be doing science, or giving trips to rich tourists?

That depends on whoever owns the space station. If it's owned by Richard Branson, it'll probably be for tourism. If it's owned by the Howard Hughes Institute, they'll probably be doing medical research. In the past, Bigelow Aerospace [wikipedia.org] has stated that they'll sell their space station modules to pretty much whoever for $100 million each, and they should be up and running in the next few years.

Re:private == for-proft + non-profit groups (1)

WoodieR (860635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343776)

Air transportation and food production are two branches of the US Military

Re:Private funding of space travel is more ethical (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342820)

If there was a privtely owned space station in orbit instead of the ISS, would they be doing science, or giving trips to rich tourists?


Exactly how much science is being done on the ISS now? And how many rich tourists have been flown there?

Re:Private funding of space travel is more ethical (1)

Wellspring (111524) | more than 8 years ago | (#14344164)

Exactly.

Substitute "powerful tourists" for rich ones and you have our program as it stands. The current incarnation of NASA is a large, bureaucratic publicity stunt.

I say this as a NASA enthusiast who has watched the agency grind away my hopes and dreams. I used the be a free-marketer in every area but this one. Really, my concern was that there was too much capital investment required to achieve risky profits after a very long runway. I felt that coerced funding from the government was the only way to build the necessary infrastructure. Sure, they're the same people who brought us the Department of Motor Vehicles, but surely their engineers are talented enough to make it work anyway, right?

After watching NASA's long meandering path in the past thirty years, I understand now that it just isn't going to happen. Organizationally, management has an enormous power to screw things up (real Feinman's essay after the Challenger disaster). NASA's real missions are threefold:

  1. produce lots of publicity
  2. produce sources of income for aerospace engineers.
  3. produce some science

Yes, that's in order of importance. The idea is that we want space-capable organizational infrastructure and people, but we don't want to actually invest in the high orbit infrastructure we need to get a real foothold out there.

Accomplishing that goal will require money, lots of low-profile industrial missions, and blood. The American public could shell out the money, conceivably, but they can't spend it efficiently; you'll lose 90% of the investment to bureacracy and inefficiency. Low profile missions going on forever would tempt the snooze factor; the public (and the political leadership) can't stick to one policy for the years required, especially when there's no built-in constituency hounding them for it. As elsewhere, there's always a strong urge to simply quit and run home, no matter the consequences. Finally, and most importantly, the public can't stand lost life, something that is simply unavoidable in a risky new field like space. Could such a program survive being placed on hold for 2 years every time someone dies? In a really big project, lots of accidents will happen, and lots of people will probably die.

I've worked in both industry and in government. So I think I'm on pretty solid ground saying that private investment may not work, and I'm fairly certain that space tourism is a bubble that will pop and leave us all disillusioned about the private sector for a few years. But the future is with them, and the X-Prize contestants. If you sit around waiting for the government to accomplish this, you'll never see it in your lifetime. The private sector might not succeed, but the government certainly will not.

Re:Private funding of space travel is more ethical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14343913)

If there was a privtely owned space station in orbit instead of the ISS, would they be doing science, or giving trips to rich tourists?

ISS has hosted a few rich tourists too, if memory serves.

Re:Private funding of space travel is more ethical (-1, Troll)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341753)

And I conclude that you're probably a jerk who buys into Ayn Rand. Screw the objectivists. They're all whacked. And learn to lighten up and have some fun while you're at it.

Re:Private funding of space travel is more ethical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14342141)

Coercion? Bullshit. You don't have to pay taxes. Yes, I will come to your house and bust it up if you don't. Or pay the government to do it for me. Because it means you don't deserve to live here, benefitting from all the things that the rest of us pay taxes to support.

America. Love it or leave it. Fucking libertarian tax-dodging traitor.

why do we bother? (1)

penguin-collective (932038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342296)

You know, idiots like you make me wonder why we even bother with democracy.

Get your lazy ass out there and start participating in our democracy; don't give us this bullshit about how you are "coerced".

Wait for Google (2, Funny)

meckardt (113120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341687)

I don't know about Amazon... I think that Google will put up a better launch vehicle.

Re:Wait for Google (1)

schmu_20mol (806069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342173)

...but do you get a gift certificate with it?

Re:Wait for Google (1)

Bodhammer (559311) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342496)

Yea, but Amazon Prime has free shipping for $79 a year...

Re:Wait for Google (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342608)

Not only that, but VirginGalactic are using HD-DVD and Amazon are using Blu-Ray for in-flight movies. While Google Space will just stream the movies directly to your neural cortex. Unfortunately, all of them will be showing Rob Schneider movies anyway. But it's High Definition Rob Schneider!

Re:Wait for Google (1)

zenslug (542549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343082)

If you don't mind the ship being in beta.

Coming this spring...... (-1, Redundant)

pionzypher (886253) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341733)

A patent on the one click launch?

Oui that joke crashed.

More info (3, Informative)

Life700MB (930032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341739)


If you're interested, you can find more info on the topic at this web [slashdot.org] .

--
Superb hosting [tinyurl.com] 2400MB Storage, 120GB bandwidth, ssh, $7.95

MSNBC News (-1, Troll)

slickwillie (34689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341760)

Yahoo News admitted today that it planted a false story about Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his idea to spend billions of dollars on space fantasy Blue Origin. Yahoo also admitted to shorting the living fuck out of AMZN stock shortly before publishing the story. Yahoo spokesbot I. M. Outtahere said it was a desterate attempt to boost quarterly earnings in an otherwise lackluster year.

Sounds Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14341774)

If you say it fast. It takes as much energy to land as it does to take off if you are talking vertical takeoff and landing.

And we havent even figured out how to get enough energy into a single stage ship to get to orbit.

Jeff Bezos (0, Offtopic)

david999 (941503) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341867)

He will pay for the rocket with stolen money. I was charged in november by Amazon for a book I did not order and it was shipped overnight $27 charge overall for a 10.95 book. I found it came thru my Amazon store which I had setup just a few weeks before. I called and spoke with someone who said no problem to refunding my money but I would have to pay the shipping since it wasn't their fault. It was a good thing this guy was at the end of a phoneline... I had to inundate their email boxes - any email link, after getting no reply from their regular customer service email but after 5 weeks I did get a full refund. Google: Amazon credit card fraud. This link is similiar to what happen to me. http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,14782168 [dslreports.com] Click on link there http://www.complaints.com/directory/2004/december/ 21/18.htm [complaints.com] I was lucky because others are still waiting for their refund. I guess they weren't as mad as I was. I kept saying in my emails that they committed credit card fraud, which they did.

Re:Sounds Good (3, Informative)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341969)

Well, first of all, helicopters can do a vertical landing without power (though that is not what is being looked at here). Take off can take no energy at all (using a balloon, for instance), it only requires a force, not energy.

That said, the real problem with your post is that most of the energy is used up accellerating to >7 km/s. When landing, all of that energy goes into the atmosphere, so vertical/horizontal landing really doesn't change the energy requirements really. Detailed analysis is inconclusive as to which one is better - wings for horizontal landing tend to weigh the same as rocket fuel for vertical landing - and there are many other variables that could go either way, ie: reentry sheilding of wings is hard, but better reentry wings may not need as much shielding, etc.

Re:Sounds Good (1)

ikea5 (608732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342034)

Take off can take no energy at all (using a balloon, for instance), it only requires a force, not energy.

whaaaat?

Re:Sounds Good (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342081)

No, really, energy is not required to levitate (take off, if you will) - energy is required to change velocity, not position. When you tie a balloon to something, the balloon does not supply any energy to the thing being lifted, it only supplies a force. Energy is force times velocity times time (or force times distance, which is less intuitive) - so if the velocity is zero, energy is zero.

Of course, we normally use big honking rockets to take off, and expend an obscene amount of energy to do it - but that is because increasing the complexity of a rocket and adding some other atmospheric manuevering option is a bad trade off compared with burning a few more tons of fuel...

Re:Sounds not so Good (1)

radl33t (900691) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342234)

"Energy" is required to levitate anywhere in the universe. Energy is zero? Where did you learn this? Aside from your egregious semantic issues, it generally would take energy to prepare this balloon contraption you have envisioned.

Re:Sounds not so Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14342441)

He's talking about the Force, don't you see - all they have to do is hire Yoda to levitate the spaceships into orbit. Won't take any energy at all.

Re:Sounds Good (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14344684)

The balloon has potential energy due to it being submerged in a medium in which it is bouyant. It transfers this potential energy to your ship when it lifts it.

Re:Sounds Good (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14345013)

Yes - but only the movement transfers energy, not the force applied. (And the energy transfered is VERY small compared to a rocket!)

What happens when rocket quits? (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342480)

To your comment that you get aerobraking on the way down I add that on landing most of your fuel is gone, so you are using rocket thrust to brake something much lighter.

The main problem I have with rocket-thrust landing in the manner of the DC-X is what happens if a rocket engine conks out? Also, when you are coming in for a landing, the aero resistance of your nearly empty fuel tank and light weight means your terminal velocity is low, but to save on fuel, you can't be hovering on engine thrust for very long. As you approach the ground, you need a very carefully timed burst of rocket thrust to come in for a soft landing.

You could say that the Soyuz lands vertically on rocket thrust. Yes, they come down mainly on parachutes, but in the last few feet they fire these solid-fuel landing rockets attached to the parachute lanyards to land softly -- they need this for a dry land instead of a splashdown landing. I heard that they have had some landing rocket failures and there are cosmonauts missing some front teeth.

Can a landing rocket be reliable enough, or are you going to crump a few space ships on landing?

Re:Sounds Good (2, Interesting)

Decaff (42676) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342335)

And we havent even figured out how to get enough energy into a single stage ship to get to orbit.

Yes we have. Remember the Roton project?

http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/the_roton_conce pt_and_its_unique_operations.shtml [spacefuture.com]

Re:Sounds Good (1)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342555)

Wow, hadn't heard of this before.

From your article:

the augmented rocket specific impulse (Isp) will be over 1500 seconds

From the Roton SSTO Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] :

Calculations showed that the helicopter blades modestly increased the Specific Impulse (Isp) by about 20-30 seconds, which essentially carried the blades into orbit "for free". Thus, there was no overall gain from this method during ascent. However, the blades could be used to soft land the vehicle.

Who's right?

I know. (1)

jimi the hippie (725322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342833)

I am. But, what's new?

New Amazon sites (1)

cloudkj (685320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341818)

I think this is just a precursor to the upcoming Amazon eCommerce sites: Amazon.space, Amazon.moon, and Amazon.mars.

Count Zero (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14341819)

"Tessier and Ashpool climbed the well of gravity to discover that they loathed space. They built Freeside to tap the wealth of the new islands, grew rich and eccentric, and began the
construction of an extended body in Straylight. We have sealed ourselves away behind our money, growing inward, generating a seamless universe of self."

http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=Tessier-Ashpo ol [everything2.com]

Computers, then space (1)

k00110 (932544) | more than 8 years ago | (#14341936)

I wonder if Jeff besoz is a fan of John Carmack.

Jeff Bezos and John Carmack (3, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342019)

I wonder if Jeff besoz is a fan of John Carmack.

Considering that Carmack's Armadillo Aerospace and Bezos's Blue Origin are both operating in Texas and are both developing suborbital reusable VTOL spacecraft, I wouldn't be surprised to see them engage in some sort of collaboration.

Carmack's been having hardware issues, but being Carmack, probably has top-notch software. I'm betting he would benefit greatly from collaborating with Blue Origin's rocket engineers, and Blue Origin would benefit from his programming godhood.

Bezos has apparently met with SpaceX's Elon Musk, who's built (and is preparing to launch) a private orbital rocket. Here's a quote from a recent press conference with Musk:

http://michaelbelfiore.com/blog/2005/11/spacex-pre launch-conference.html [michaelbelfiore.com]

On Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos' space program
Musk: "I met with Jeff Bezos a couple of times and had dinner. His motivations in doing Blue origin are identical to mine in forming spacex. There's a good chance we'll work collaboratively at some point."

--Update-- (presumably elaborating on motivations)
Musk: The expansion of life on earth to other places is arguably the most important thing to happen to life on earth, if it happens. Life has the duty to expand. And we're the representatives of life with the ability to do so.

Fame forever (4, Interesting)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342053)

In a bigger scope of things, I see IT and dot com zilionaires investing in Space. I wonder if in, say, 100 years, this will be seen as the turning point where space exploration really got into motion. The heroes of the past are NASA, Armstrong, Gagarin and the like. These new rich, raised with SF, want to be the heroes of the future. They cannot be stooped by anything but their ego and the limit of their pocket, which is seemlingly endless. They will compete. They must have limited expectations of return of investment (?) It seems a good thing.

We need DOGS not CATS! (1, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342064)

This is the basis for the argument for CATs (Cheap Access to Space) and
      http://www.space-frontier.org/Projects/CatsPrize/ [space-frontier.org]
various legislative pushes and at least a couple of billionaires (including Jeff Bezos of
Amazon.com) putting a lot of money into this (perhaps as businesses, but
essentially still billionaire hobbies). While I wish them well, I think
this approach towards space settlement is misguided. Let's work the
numbers.

The USA has about two million millionaires. There are many more elsewhere.
      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/07/07 11_030711_money.html [nationalgeographic.com]
"In total, there are an estimated 7.3 million people in the world whose
assets--excluding their home--amount to U.S. $1 million or more. Behind
Europe, North America has the second highest concentration of
millionaires at 2.2 million. The Asia Pacific region accounts for 1.8
million. Latin America and the Middle East account for 300,000 each, and
Africa accounts for 100,000."

At current launch costs of $10000 per pound, to put a 150 pound adult
(me on a starvation diet for a couple months!) would be about
$1,500,000, or $6,000,000 for a family of four. Now that amount of money
being paid is well within the reach of hundreds of thousands of people
if they liquidate all their assets -- homes, stocks, retirement
accounts, and so forth. Now if you could guarantee that they and their
children would have a better life living in cities in space, then some
percentage of them might well do that. The problem as I see it is, we
can't guarantee that right now. The other problem is of course, there is
no place to live right now for hundreds of thousands of people showing
up in their underwear and starving with no shelter or clothes or food or
air or water or other goods for them.

One solution is to pursue the 1980s NASA vision
      http://www.islandone.org/MMSG/aasm/AASM5A.html#5a [islandone.org]
of first putting
automated factories on the moon (or at asteroids) and using robotics
(and teleoperation) make space settlements complete with food, water,
clothes, etc. for when these people show up. It would in theory only
take one Apollo-type launch to the Moon or an asteroid
with the seed of an automated
factory instead of a LEM to start the process rolling, and that would
have an up front cost of a few billion dollars or so -- far less than
the total launch costs for all the people. The factory could also carry
out putting up mass drivers etc. to realize Gerry O'Neill's or
J.D. Bernal's vision of building
near earth habitats from lunar or asteroidal resources.

So, as I see it, launch costs are not a bottleneck.
So while lowering launch costs may be useful, by itself
it ultimately has no value without someplace to live in space.
And all the innovative studies on space settlement say that space colonies will not be
built from materials launched from earth, but rather will be built mainly from
materials found in space.

So, what is a bottleneck
is that we do not know how to make that seed self-replicating factory,
or have plans for what it should create once it is landed on the moon or
on a near-earth asteroid. We don't have (to use Bucky Fuller's terminology)
a Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science
    http://www.bfi.org/node/387 [bfi.org]
that lets us make sense of all the various manufacturing knowledge
which is woven throughout our complex economy (and in practice,
despite patents, is essentially horded and hidden and made proprietary whenever possible)
in order to synthesize it to build elegant and flexible infrastructure
for sustaining human life in style in space (or on Earth).

So that is why I think billionaires like Jeff Bezos spending money on
CATS is a tragedy -- they should IMHO be spending their money on DOGS
instead (Design of Great Settlements). But the designs can be done more
slowly without much money using volunteers and networked personal
computers -- which was the point of a SSI paper I co-authored:
      http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/oscomak/SSI_Fernhout 2001_web.html [kurtz-fernhout.com]
or a couple other sites I made in that direction:
    http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com/oscomak/ [kurtz-fernhout.com]
    http://www.freevolution.net/ [freevolution.net]
My work is on a shoestring, but when I imagine what even just a million dollars a year could bring in returns supporting a core team of a handful of space settlement designers, working directly on the bottleneck issues and eventually coordinating the volunteer work of hundreds or thousands more, it is frustrating to see so much money just go into just building better rockets when the ones we have already are good enough for now.

Disclaimer: I don't think the best way to settle space is to only put
rich people there; the analysis is more for sake of argument then
anything else; I think with improved materials science and volunteer
efforts, reduced launch costs by a factor of ten will happen almost
inevitably down the road. And even if not, an automated space based
infrastructure could send laser launch vehicles down to earth and beam
energy for then to use to launch people at no cost -- a good use of SPSS
in my opinion. But once again this goes to show how the bootstrapping
approach differs from the Earth infrastructure approach.

Why vertical landing? Why not parachutes? (3, Interesting)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342285)

Setting down into the white-hot exhaust of a burning rocket engine sure looks cool in the movies, but is it really safe? I mean, the kickback of the exhaust can cause all sorts of heat related problems on the underside of the craft, plus the control mechanism requires extra hardware, plus you have to carry a lot of extra propellant -- adding unnecessary weight and complexity.

Parachutes, on the other hand, are lighter, much cheaper and a lot safer.

Keep it simple.

Re:Why vertical landing? Why not parachutes? (1)

entrigant (233266) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342626)

Couldn't coming down in a parachute be considered a vertical landing?

Control? (2, Interesting)

Julian Morrison (5575) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342744)

Why not parachutes? I'm guessing, but I'd guess control. A VTOL rocket in the Delta Clipper mold can park itself inside a one-and-a-half diameter chalk circle. A 'chute can probably be guaranteed to hit the right county. They're a recovery mechanism best suited to big government projects that can afford to recover astronauts from large amorphous targets such as deserts, oceans etc. Not suited to eg: intercontinental commuters landing at a spaceport with a schedule to keep.

Plus, even a VTOL design can use 'chutes to drop most of its speed, before using retro-rockets to coast in for a controlled landing.

Re:Control? (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342911)

A VTOL rocket in the Delta Clipper mold can park itself inside a one-and-a-half diameter chalk circle.

You forgot to mention that the Delta Clipper exploded while trying to land. A landing strut failed, causing it to tip over, busting a fuel tank open. The ball of flame was quite large.

When you land with a parachute, the tanks are empty.

Re:Control? (1)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343482)

Why not a Rogallo canopy then ? With a simple autopilot they can land pretty accurately.

ni!gGa (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14342431)

conducteD at MIT

A Wise Man Once Said... (1)

Manhigh (148034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342776)

"The best way to become a millionaire in the launch vehicle business, is to start out as a billionaire."

Orbiting before it's time? (1)

Radak (126696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342846)

...the billionaire talked [about] sending a spaceship into orbit that launches and lands vertically, like a rocket, and eventually building spaceships that can orbit the Earth

So the plan is to launch ships into orbit before building ships that can orbit? This doesn't seem wise.

Somebody needs to work on his article writing skills.

Chemical Engines Are Useless (1)

spinozaq (409589) | more than 8 years ago | (#14342880)

What needs to happen before ANY success will be made in space exploration is the tree hugging variety ( The ones that are very loud. ) of the american public needs to get over the word "Nuclear". It's not a bad word people, and it's good clean abundant energy. You are going to breath hundreds of times more Uranium and other radioactive material from the Coal fired powered plants on this planet then you will ever near within 50 miles of if 100% of the worlds power was Nuclear Fission based..... Back to space travel. I saw a protest for the Casini launch. I don't think I'm alone is banging my head against the desk at what an uneducated group that was....

Gas Core Nuclear Rockets, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_core_reactor_rock et [wikipedia.org] , are the only feasible way to launch the mass needed for real space exploration. A single stage multi-engine(4-6) GCR could launch the entire completed IIS in one fell swoop! Every couple of years NASA revists this technology, and it always gets put back on the shelf because "Americans aren't ready for it". The only issue with these engines when they _were running_ back in the 70's were material issues. Carbon fiber and modern silicon manufacturing now makes these issues all but solved. You want to see a moon colony in your lifetime... Educate people on the efficiency of GCR technology.

The latest NASA designs are a joke. It's the same old, same old... boring hydrogen and oxygen rockets that are no different from Goddard's orignal made nearly 80 YEARS AGO. Can't we 'think different' by now?

Re:Chemical Engines Are Useless (2, Insightful)

TheOrquithVagrant (582340) | more than 8 years ago | (#14344417)

Let me first say that I completely agree that nuclear rockets are the way to go, and that putting them in use is long overdue. I also wanted to personally bitch-slap each and every one of the moronic "stop Cassini" protesters.

Concern over the use of nuclear energy isn't inherently stupid, though. I have to object every time I hear someone call it "clean". The waste is extremely nasty, but can contain it rather than (barring accidents) spewing it out into the environment. I still haven't seen any convincing solution dealing with nuclear waste in the long term. I'd say nuclear engergy as a solution to energy production here on earth is problematic, but still better than most of the currently available alternatives. The problem is that people tend to declare themselves either "pro nuclear" or "anti nuclear" without being very rational about it. They pick one standpoint and "believe" in it like it was a religion.

Storage of waste products is not, however, an issue when using nuclear energy for spaceflight. Chucking the waste into space seems to be pretty much the best way I can think of for getting rid of it.

> The only issue with these engines when they _were running_ back in the 70's
> were material issues.

Those weren't gas core nuclear engines, though, but solid-core, which really aren't all that interesting. Gas core looks the way to go, but they're still only drawing-board designs. To my knowledge, no gas core nuclear engine has ever been actually constructed, even for experimental use.

billionaire? Curious'm (1)

klept (895849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343033)

All the talk seems to be about feasability of public space travel. What I would like to know is this. Is Bezos really a billionaire? Who says? What do they base it on? Doesn't Amazon have a retained deficit in their balance sheet? Are they still selling books or other items for a loss? If the answer is yes to all, then tell me how Bezos has a net worth of a real billion dollars? Is his salary that large at Amazon and he just saved most of it? After all, I believe reading in the Economist that Sandy Weill's salary was $250 mil. from Citicorp. Is Jeff getting paid that much? I'm really curious what his net worth is based on, and how he may have got it. Hey if there is some new way of making money, I'd like to know.

Forbes says he's worth $4.3 billion (1)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343206)

I'm sure at least a billion of that is "real," however you want to define it.

As for the money Bezos has in Amazon stock - Amazon had sales of over $8 billion last year, is turning a profit, and is growing at 30% a year. Owning a sizeable chunk of that action is about as "real" as it gets.

Re:Forbes says he's worth $4.3 billion (1)

klept (895849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343316)

Yeah I heard a couple of years ago that his company started making a profit. It was about 3c a share. Dont follow the stock , so maybe the company is making more money now. But seriously, Tinrobot, if you are saying his wealth is in his stock, I dont think this is a realistic measurement. Most of Bill Gate's wealth is in Microsoft, but at the moment that is pretty real. Microsoft generates loads of money. Look at the mega dividend they payed a few years ago. And as for sales of $8 bil., it aint how much sales you make but how much profit. The new economy before the dot com bust didnt think profits mattered. Well when reality struck it mattered to a great many people at a great many companies. How did Amazon survive? They had a long burn rate from the cash horde they raised in public offeriings. Happy Holidays :)

Re:Forbes says he's worth $4.3 billion (1)

Coward, Anonymous (55185) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343870)

Jeff Bezos owns 101,283,650 [yahoo.com] shares of Amazon which is worth nearly $5 billion at its current value.

if you are saying his wealth is in his stock, I dont think this is a realistic measurement.

Why isn't it a realistic measurement? If I bought $100,000 of Amazon stock, would you say that I wasn't worth $100,000? To put it simply: Jeff Bezos has stuff that he can easily convert into billions of dollars. That makes him a billionaire.

Most of Bill Gate's wealth is in Microsoft, but at the moment that is pretty real.

You seem to have a concept of real and fake stock values. I can't tell if you think that Microsoft's stock is a good buy and Amazon's isn't but that doesn't have much of an impact on the value of either.

propulsion maybe a black light rocket..hydrinos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14343063)

neat if he used the black light rocket that the government tested but did not develope

Snow Crashedness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14343402)

FYI: Neal Stephenson is working part-time on Blue Origin too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neal_Stephenson [wikipedia.org]

Where do I donate? (1)

NumberGod (65770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343827)

I'd pay good money to fire Jeff Bezos out into deep space.

Where do I sign?

Re:Where do I donate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14344783)

Just click here

Suggestions for PERMANENT space colonists (1)

ytr (680908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14343924)

Bush
Limbuagh
Rumsfeld
Cheney ....
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