Blue Origin did a really cool thing – for the third time. The private spaceflight company, owned and operated by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, successfully re-launched and re-landed its New Shepard rocket. This is the second time this particular reusable rocket has been launched, but the third time it has been to space (but not high enough to reach orbit).
So you might be thinking, this has already been done a few times. What’s new?
Blue Origin tweaked and added a couple new features to the spacecraft on its third journey. First, the engines restart at 1,097 meters (3,600 feet) in the air in order to gain more stability in sticking the landing. Second, the crew capsule separates from the rocket and lands with its own parachute. Third, two microgravity experiments were placed onboard.
The first experiment mimics the surface conditions on asteroids. Learn about it in the video below.
The second experiment mimics impacts between objects in microgravity. These experiments were investigated and constructed by the Southwest Research Institute, and a physics professor and students from the University of Central Florida, respectively. They couldn’t effectively be executed in the conditions that exist on Earth.
Hence, the voyage up.
Bezos is pretty darn happy about these accomplishments. But Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, has had his hands full as well.
The two commercial space companies are both in an arms race to create a better reusable rocket. Although Blue Origin claimed to be the first to land its rocket after going into space last November, SpaceX landed and went into orbit. That’s a pretty difficult feat to accomplish, and it requires a whole lot of energy.
Although Blue Origin posted some videos of successful landings, SpaceX records livestreams of its launches and landings for their audience. In any case, one thing is clear, this really is a race to space 2.0. Here’s a video from Blue Origin’s third trip and some spectacular images.