“Blue Origin, a space tourism company founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has performed a surprising and “historic” rocket launch and landing from their facility in Van Horn, Texas. A video reveals how the New Shepard space vehicle reached the edge of space, before returning to Earth in a controlled landing.
Crucially, the rocket traveled to a height of 100.5 kilometers (62.4 miles) – officially beyond the boundary of space 100 kilometers (62 miles) high, known as the Karman line – making it the first rocket to land intact after journeying to space. This will be somewhat of a blow to their rival SpaceX, who have been endeavoring to do something similar with their Falcon 9 rocket, but to no avail so far.
“Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts – a used rocket,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, in a statement. “Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle flew a flawless mission – soaring to 329,839 feet and then returning through 119-mph high-altitude crosswinds to make a gentle, controlled landing just four and a half feet from the center of the pad. Full reuse is a game changer, and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again.”
Although Blue Origin have shown off their rocket before, this latest feat comes somewhat out of the blue (sorry), with the secretive company not publishing any announcements in the run-up to the launch, which took place yesterday. At the maximum altitude, the unmanned capsule separated from the rocket for a landing via parachute, while the booster itself re-ignited for a controlled landing.”