Jeff Bezos' company could totally change the space race.
It’s an accomplishment that could change the race to commercialize space.
Blue Origin, a spaceflight company created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, flew its New Shepard rocket on Saturday, and then landed it back on Earth — the holy grail of the space industry that Bezos has been fighting for along with Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
The rocket flew 339,178 feet into the air, just outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, and then descended to the ground safely for the third time in less than five months. SpaceX has only accomplished the feat once so far, although Musk has been going for a more ambitious goal: landing a rocket at sea.
Rockets in the past were simply dumped into the sea after jettisoning its cargo into space, a huge waste of money that makes it very expensive to fly rockets into space. If the industry were able to figure out how to reuse rockets, it would save huge amounts of money and lead to more space travel because it would be so much cheaper, potentially jump-starting a space age for humanity.
Blue Origin is gunning for that achievement, and seems to be getting closer to its goal. This test went farther, restarting the engine just 3,600 feet above the ground to use less fuel to land it. It was also the highest it had flown in all three tries.
“Named in honor of the first American in space, Alan Shepard, the New Shepard vertical takeoff and vertical landing vehicle will carry six astronauts to altitudes beyond 100 kilometers, the internationally-recognized boundary of space,” reads a statement from November on the program. “Blue Origin astronauts will experience the thrill of launch atop a rocket, the freedom of weightlessness, and views through the largest windows to ever fly in space. Astronaut flights will begin following completion of a methodical flight test program.”
It adds: “Following powered flight, the crew capsule separates from the booster and coasts into space, providing several minutes of weightlessness. As the crew capsule descends, it reenters the atmosphere with astronauts experiencing about 5x the force of gravity before deploying three main parachutes for landing. Meanwhile, the booster descends under guided flight to the landing pad. Just prior to landing, the booster re-ignites its BE-3 engine which slows the vehicle to 4.4 mph for a gentle, powered vertical landing, enabling vehicle reuse.”