There is nothing cooler than spaceflight. Nothing.
And now we're getting closer.
Jeff Bezos, the billionaire visionary behind Amazon.com, has joined the race to bring commercial spaceflight to the masses. (Well, the wealthy masses, anyway.) His retro-looking conical vehicle, dubbed Goddard, was designed by his spaceflight company, Blue Origin. Goddard had a successful test launch in November 2006 in a remote part of Texas and the details have just been released. The vehicle blasted off from the ground to reach a height of 90m and then made a controlled landing. Obviously, 90m is not that high, so it's thought that the puspose of the exercise was to test Goddard's launch and landing abilities.
"We're working, patiently and step-by-step, to lower the cost of spaceflight so that many people can afford to go," Bezos wrote on the Blue Origin website, "and so that we humans can better continue exploring the Solar System." Now that's cool.
Blue Origin has no official timetable for taking passengers into space, but documents from the US Federal Aviation Administration suggest it could happen as early as 2010.
Bezos is actively recruiting engineers for Blue Origin, especially "experienced propulsion engineers". Any takers?
Blue joins the ranks of US-based Space Adventures, which has already taken four space tourists to the International Space Station, and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which is developing the SpaceShipOne craft.