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Jeff Bezos' first proper test rocket has successfully launched

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Elon Musk may be the most famous tech billionaire with an interest in spaceflight, but he's certainly not the only one. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos also has a company, Blue Origin, which is doing similar research into reusable craft to get us to-and-from the heavens. The normally secretive outfit has just revealed that its first test vehicle, New Shepard, made arguably its most important, partially successful test flight yesterday. In the experiment, the priapic craft took an (empty) crew capsule to a height of 307,000 feet before releasing it to float gently back to earth.

Unfortunately there was a fault in New Shepard 1's hydraulic system, and so the company was "unable to recover" the propulsion module -- a polite euphemism for crashing into the desert. Thankfully, no-one was injured, and the business is already working on building a second and third New Shepard to continue testing the vertical takeoff, vertical landing vehicle. If successful, then it's likely that Bezos will look to offer governments a cheaper way of getting satellites, personnel and cargo into orbit, hopefully bringing us all a bit closer to the space taxi NASA's always been jonesing for.

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