Re­cy­cling makes space tourism cheaper

Science Illustrated - - SPACE -

Most rock­ets are made up of sev­eral stages, which are de­tached, as the craft trav­els into space. The largest, most ex­pen­sive part of the rocket is the first stage, that might ac­count for some 80 % of the launch price. So far, the ex­pen­sive rocket stages have been dumped into the ocean after one mis­sion, mak­ing aero­space ac­tiv­i­ties so ex­pen­sive that space tourism has been im­pos­si­ble.

But now, en­gi­neers have al­lowed the rock­ets to steer safely down the at­mos­phere and land on a plat­form to be reused. One of them is the New Shep­ard rocket that will fly into space and de­tach a manned cap­sule. The six pay­ing tourists will ex­pe­ri­ence four min­utes in a state of weight­less­ness and see Earths’ bend, be­fore the cap­sule will once again head to­wards Earth car­ried by para­chutes. The rocket’s first stage will slow down shortly be­fore con­tact with Earth, land­ing softly to be read­ied for a new launch.

In 2015, New Shep­ard was the first rocket to land on Earth after a space mis­sion.

A ring equipped withbrak­ing fins un­folds, as the cap­sule above it is de­tached from the rocket in space. At the bot­tom, you will find the con­trol fins. They are con­trolled by com­put­ers, which ad­just the fins' ori­en­ta­tion sev­eral time a sec­ond on the way down the at­mos­phere.

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