Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed a rocket that had been recovered from a previous mission.
Jeff Bezos’s private spaceflight company has previously pipped SpaceX to the post in launching and safely landing a rocket last year.
Now Blue Origin has scored another win by relaunching and landing that very same rocket.
The New Shepard rocket, which was carrying a capsule, reached an altitude of just under 102 kilometers (technically at the very start of what is considered space) before returning safely to Earth.
In a recent blog post, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos reveals that the crew capsule parachutes and pyro igniters were replaced, and new software installed, but otherwise this was the same rocket as before.
Once again, there’s a caveat here that rival SpaceX in particular will be keen to stress. Blue Origin’s (re)launch was another suborbital affair, which is much less demanding than the full orbital launch-and-land procedure Elon Musk’s company has been gunning for (and has achieved on one occasion).
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Still, the fact that Blue Origin was successful with its recovered launch marks an important step forward. The key issue with modern space travel is the huge cost brought about by wastage, with one-shot rockets that are left to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere.
Blue Origin intends to use its reusable New Shepard rocket to carry tourists and researchers into suborbital space.