Blue Origin has successfully launched and landed a suborbital rocket for a second time. The New Shepard rocket and capsule, which is designed to carry six passengers, blasted off from a launch site in West Texas on Friday and landed itself minutes later back on the launch pad, the company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in a statement.
Bezos added that this was the same rocket that they used 2 months ago. “I’m a huge fan of rocket-powered vertical landing,” Bezos wrote on the website 10 hours after the flight. “To achieve our vision of millions of people living and working in space, we will need to build very large rocket boosters. And the vertical landing (system) scales extraordinarily well.”
Last month, Elon Musk’s Space X successfully returned a rocket to a landing pad in Florida after it blasted off on a satellite-delivery mission. Space X and Blue Origin belong in the handful of companies focused on developing rockets that can travel back to Earth so that they can be re-furbished and used again. This will substantially reduce launch costs.
At the moment, Blue Origin is flying suborbital rockets, which do not have the speed to put spacecraft into orbit around Earth. The company is working on a more powerful rocket engine, with testing slated to begin this year, Bezos said.