Little known space-flight company, Blue Origin, announced on Tuesday that it had successfully launched and then landed a reusable rocket.
Jeff Bezos’ private space transportation company, Blue Origin, landed a suborbital rocket back at its launch site eight minutes after launching it to an altitude of 62 miles – breaching Earth’s atmosphere and space.
E-commerce entrepreneur and founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, aims to make booster rockets reusable and cost effective, in order to take space transportation to a new level.
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“Rockets have always been expendable. Not anymore. Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts, a used rocket,” Bezos, who founded Amazon.com Inc and owns the Washington Post newspaper, wrote in a Blue Origin blog post.
In suborbital spaceflight, rockets are not traveling fast enough to reach the speed required to counter the pull of Earth’s gravity, so they re-enter the atmosphere like a ballistic missile.
Fellow billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, founder and chief executive officer of rival rocket company Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, used his Twitter feed to congratulate Bezos and the Blue Origin team on the landing, a technology that SpaceX is also pursuing.
SpaceX is working to reuse rockets that are returning from the higher altitudes and faster speeds of orbital missions. “It is … important to clear up the difference between ‘space’ and ‘orbit’,” Musk posted on Twitter.
The rarest of beasts – a used rocket. Controlled landing not easy, but done right, can look easy. Check out video: https://t.co/9OypFoxZk3
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) November 24, 2015
A rocket needs to be traveling about three times the speed of sound, or Mach 3, to reach space, but orbital missions require speeds about Mach 30, Musk said.
Congrats to Jeff Bezos and the BO team for achieving VTOL on their booster — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2015
Nevertheless, it is the conditions in those last few seconds before touchdown, when both orbital and suborbital rockets are positioning themselves for landing, that so far has eluded SpaceX, and which the Blue Origin team nailed.
Blue Origin YouTube video:
Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing a historic landing back at the launch site in West Texas.
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