Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has beaten Elon Musk’s SpaceX as it became the first company to re-launch and land its New Shepard rocket after initially landing it back on earth for the first time in November.
This is the first time a rocket of its kind has managed to complete two missions and now Blue Origin says it plans to continue launching and re-landing the rocket over and over again.
It also means that Blue Origin has done what SpaceX seemingly can’t. The company managed to successfully land its Falcon 9 rocket in December for the first time but it won’t be launched again as Musk deemed the craft aircraft too special to reuse.
SpaceX successfully re-launched another rocket last week but it fell over during landing and exploded, an issue the company has had to overcome in the past.
The two rockets are different, though; SpaceX’s Falcon 9 is designed to deliver cargo, while Blue Origin’s New Shepard is being pegged to take human passengers into suborbital space in the future.
Blue Origin had to make some modifications to the original rocket for its re-launch and landing to be successful too. It had new parachutes fitted in its crew capsule on the top of the rocket (which detaches in space) and new pyro igniters, as well as a software update.
Meanwhile, SpaceX is also working on a capsule called the Dragon 2, which will eventually be attached to its Falcon 9 rocket to make it habitable for a human crew, just like the New Shepard.
The company released footage of a test it completed in November where the pod hovered for 5 seconds and generated 33,000 pounds of thrust. All going well, it should be ready to test with actual humans in 2017.
➤ Launch. Land. Repeat. [Blue Origin]