WATCH THIS: Blue Origin makes historic second landing of its reusable rocket
Blue Origin, the private space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, made history by being the first company to launch and land its New Shepard reusable rocket for a second time.
The launch, which took place on 22 January, saw New Shepard travelling to the Karman line (63 miles above Earth) before returning back to Earth. In a blog post on Blue Origin’s website, Bezos makes the whole ordeal sound incredibly simple to do – something we know can’t be true thanks to SpaceX’s landing issues. However, there’s one crucial difference with how Blue Origin handles its rocket landings.
“Rather than [New Shepartd] translating to land at the exact center of the pad,” writes Bezos, “it now initially targets the centre, but then sets down at a position of convenience on the pad, prioritising vehicle attitude ahead of precise lateral positioning. It’s like a pilot lining up a plane with the centre-line of the runway”.
Bezos compares this new landing style to that of a pilot landing a plane, explaining that a pilot just lands “a few feet left or right of the centre-line”, instead of trying to hit the exact midpoint. Bezos is essentially saying the new landing technique succeeds because it emulates a human approach to landing.
Blue Origin’s successful second landing of a reusable rocket goes to show that the future of more sustainable spaceflight is truly possible. Thanks to this success, Bezos sees New Shepard launching and landing again and again this year as they begin testing the BE-4 engine and scaling up booster sizes.
Let’s just hope we’ll see more celebrations like this from both Blue Origin and SpaceX.