While SpaceX took the first stab at landing a reusable rocket, Blue Origin has managed to achieve success with the landing of its reusable BE-3 rocket following a test flight to the edge of space.
In the test, Blue Origin — a private space firm backed by billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — launched their New Shepard spaceship 62 miles above the Earth before disconnecting it from the BE-3 rocket which carried it there. Next, the crew carrying capsule, which was unmanned at the time, drifted back down to Earth underneath its parachute.
More interestingly, the reusable BE-3 rocket made its own descent, eventually landing safely on a platform in the the desert of West Texas — securing Blue Origin’s position in the annals of private space exploration history.
In order to land the reusable rocket during the test flight, which took place on November 23, the rocket deployed an array of sophisticated technology from hydraulically actuated fins for steering to large drag brakes for reducing reentry speed while igniting its engine to ensure a nice, soft landing.
Blue Origins uploaded a video of the historic rocket landing to its official YouTube channel, where it has been seen over 4 million times.
In light of the private space company’s achievement, rockets are no longer expendable – at least not their rockets.
Soon you’ll be able to climb aboard New Shepard and come home an astronaut.
In the company’s announcement of its historic landing, Bezos writes that you’ll soon “be able to climb aboard New Shepard and come home and astronaut.”
SpaceX has previously attempted to launch its larger, more powerful Falcon 9 rocket boosters without success. In the tests, the company aimed to land the rockets not on land, but on robotic platforms floating in the water.
Musk noted in a tweet published the day after Blue Origin’s successful rocket landing that SpaceX attempted its orbital water landing test in 2014 and up next is its orbital land landing test. He also made a point to note that SpaceX began its suborbital VTOL flight in 2013.
Jeff maybe unaware SpaceX suborbital VTOL flight began 2013. Orbital water landing 2014. Orbital land landing next. https://t.co/S6WMRnEFY5
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2015
In other news, NASA recently ordered its first manned mission from SpaceX to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station.