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The Plutus Awards 2011 chief's test rocket crashes

Now I understand why doesn't want to spend money to set up a sales tax collection system. The online retail giant's chief executive needs as much cash as he can get for his rocket program.

Blue Origin rocket Blue Origin, a space start-up founded by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, revealed on Friday that its experimental suborbital space vehicle was lost last week during a test flight outside of Van Horn, Texas. That's the vehicle pictured there at left before it encountered its fatal problems.

"A flight instability drove an angle of attack that triggered our range safety system to terminate thrust on the vehicle," Bezos wrote on the Blue Origin website.

What he's trying to delicately say is that they had to blow the thing out of the sky.

"The talk around town is people saw it in the air," Larry Simpson, the publisher of the Van Horn Advocate newspaper, told MSNBC's Cosmic Log. "I heard talk that people saw it from 25 miles away."

If at first your rocket crashes, try, try again: "Not the outcome any of us wanted, but we're signed up for this to be hard," Bezos wrote. "We're already working on our next development vehicle."

The Kent, Wash.-based aerospace firm has a test facility near Van Horn, a small community in the West Texas desert. The Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial spaceflights, issued a notice to pilots to avoid a 17 nautical mile radius around the town on Aug. 24.

There had been no further launch word until reports of the crash appeared online and Bezos' confirmation Friday of the ill-fated flight.

Blue Origin tested its first spacecraft in 2006. Since then, NASA has awarded the company more than $25 million to develop its space vehicle, as well as a "pusher" launch abort system.

Company documents filed with NASA indicate that a Blue Origin goal is construction of an orbital space vehicle capable of carrying astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.

Although the Aug. 24 misfire involved a suborbital spaceship, rather than the work covered by Blue Origin's agreement with NASA, the failure could be a major setback of White House plans to use commercially developed spacecraft instead of NASA craft to transport crews to the space station by the second half of this decade. 

Follow-up friday Space and time shift: I know it's Saturday, but since I didn't get around to writing a Follow-up Friday piece yesterday and Bezos officially announced his rocket's misfire on Sept. 2, I'm going to count this post as this week's FF item. Think of it as Second-chance Saturday. Thank you for your indulgence.

Back to the tax point, I doubt that there's a direct connection between Bezos' space effort and Amazon's battles against states that want the company to collect and remit sales taxes on the products shipped to online buyers across the United States.

But I'm sure that Bezos, like any businessman, is always looking for any way to save money in all his enterprises.

And the more money that Bezos personally pockets from his online retail business, the more money he can put into picking up literal Blue Origin pieces and repairing his rocket.

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