Blue Origin booster returns for soft landing


Blue Origin launched the New Shepard rocket into suborbital space and then brought both capsule and its liquid-fuel rockets back down for a soft landing at a pad in west Texas, USA. The uncrewed test flight was carried out on November 23, 2015, and marked a big step toward full rocket reusability. The company was established by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and is in competition with SpaceX to develop reusable boosters.

“To be able to do a vertical landing with a fully reusable booster stage is a really big deal,” said Bezos at a press conference.

Various reusable rocket vehicles have been developed in the past, such as the X-15 and SpaceShipOne (which reached space twice in 2004). The Blue Origin landing this month represents the first time a vertical landing on land has been achieved, rather than using a runway.

SpaceX, which is also working to develop reusable, vertically landing boosters, has succeeded in landing its Grasshopper prototype during flight tests, but has not reported it has reached orbital space. The first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket has been brought down for a soft ocean landing in the Atlantic during orbital launches. Attempts to land the rocket on an unmanned barge deck have failed so far.

To watch a video of the historic landing, click here.

November 27, 2015

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