Blue Origin, the commercial space company set up by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, has released the first footage of its spacecraft in action.
The Goddard spaceship is a vertical take-off and landing rocket that will one day take three passengers into low earth orbit.
A video released by the company shows the cone-shaped craft taking off in Texas, rising to around 85 metres and returning to earth.
"We believe in incremental improvement and in keeping investments at a sustainable pace," said the company.
"Slow and steady is the way to achieve results, and we do not kid ourselves into thinking this will get easier as we go along."
Bezos is not the only technologist who has shown an interest in space exploration. Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, has helped finance the first commercial spacecraft, SpaceShipOne.
The idea of a vertical take-off and landing rocket is not new. Nasa tried a similar design in the mid-1990s with the Delta Clipper experimental craft, but dropped the programme after the test craft was destroyed by fire after a bad landing.
Delta Clipper did set new records for repeat flights, however, since it could be refuelled on its landing pad, unlike the Space Shuttle.
This could be the reason for Blue Origin choosing the design, since the company has said it wants to use the craft at least once a week to make orbital flights.
Amazon boss heads for the final frontier
By Iain Thomson on Jan 8, 2007 9:39AM