For those that marvelled when Elon Musk’s SpaceX managed to successfully launch and land the booster rocket of Falcon 9, prepare to stare on with your mouth agape when you hear that Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin have done the same thing, three times.
The Blue Origin unmanned rocket, known as New Shepard, left a West Texas launch pad on 2nd April without a hitch before travelling 103.38 km to the brink of space.
At this point, a traditional rocket (i.e. one not manufactured by Blue Origin or Space X) would part ways with the booster rocket, which would descend back to Earth with an almighty wallop. But like Falcon 9, New Shepard is a reusable rocket.
Once the descent had begun, the booster rocket fired back up again 1km from the ground. The result was exactly what Jeff Bezos and the Blue Origin expected: the rocket landed back on earth at a speed of 7.4km. You can watch the spectacle unfold below.
This marks the third time this rocket has been launched and landed successfully. According to the Wall Street Journal, if future tests are completed successfully Bezos has said that New Shepard could be ferrying tourists to the brink of space as soon as 2018.
The technology we use to go into space has been stuck in the mindset of “once-off” flights for decades. This means that hugely expensive components are used once before heading for the trash heap, making space travel and space tourism by conventional space-faring means extremely costly.
Many believe that being able to reuse rockets may make space travel more cost effective. Should that mean we could all some day get a glimpse of our planet from the highest point possible at some point, we’re happy for Musk and Bezos to keep firing rockets into the sky.
[Via – Wall Street Journal] [Image – Blue Origin]