Blue Origin Executes First Successful Relaunch And Landing Of Reusable Rocket [Video]

The private sector space race is heating up, and co-founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is back out in front with the first successful relaunch and landing of a reusable rocket.

Blue Origin’s rocket was first launched and landed last fall, as previously reported by Inquisitr, and it was successfully relaunched and landed on January 22, 2016.

It’s important to note that the big news here isn’t that Blue Origin managed to land a rocket, which they already did last fall, and SpaceX has also accomplished. This latest mission didn’t involve a similar rocket, or even a rocket built to the same specifications. Blue Origin actually took the rocket that they launched and landed last year, cleaned it up, checked it over, and launched it again only four months later.

For anyone who isn’t already familiar with the successful September 2015 launch and landing of Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket, it didn’t involve a traditional splashdown. Rather than an ocean landing, which rockets and capsules have previously relied on, New Shepard is designed to make a controlled, powered, vertical landing. It really is a remarkable feat, and you can watch it happen in the video on this page.

This marks the first time that a rocket has been successfully landed and reused, which is a huge step forward in terms of economically feasible space flight.

According to Wired, the successful relaunch and landing means that we should expect to see Blue Origin relaunch and land New Shepard many more times in the coming months as it puts the design through rigorous testing.

Fortune reports that Blue Origin’s chief competitor, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, also successfully landed a rocket last December. That landing, like the Blue Origin rocket landings, took place on a land-based platform. Unlike Blue Origin, SpaceX has also attempted to land on a mobile, floating platform located in the Pacific Ocean, which didn’t turn out as well. When one of the booster’s legs gave out, the rocket fell over and blew up.

blue origin new shepard bezos
Although Blue Origin is currently out in front of SpaceX in terms of relaunching reusable rockets, there is one key difference between the New Shepard and SpaceX’s Falcon9. While both rockets have technically reached space, only Falcon9 has actually reached low Earth orbit.

When SpaceX launched and landed Falcon9 in December, it was also a working satellite-delivery mission.

On each of its successful launches, Blue Origin’s New Shepard has reached an apogee of about 100 km, which is where the Karman line divides the Earth’s atmosphere from space. SpaceX’s Falcon9 has gone further, actually into low Earth orbit, which takes far more energy. Experts also say that coming back from orbit is much harder than coming back from the Karman line. So while Blue Origin’s successful relaunch and landing is impressive, SpaceX’s landing from orbit is a more impressive technological feat.

When Blue Origin successfully launched and landed New Shepard last fall, Musk offered congratulations via Twitter.

However, the Tesla CEO was also quick to point out the difference between space and orbit.

When SpaceX successfully launched and landed Falcon9 in December, Bezos returned the favor.

According to Wired, Blue Origin’s current suborbital rocket designs don’t have the speed necessary to reach low Earth orbit, but the company is currently working on a more powerful version. Bezos says that the new rocket could be ready next year, so in the meantime SpaceX will retain the lead in terms of actually reaching orbit with its reusable rockets, while Blue Origin continues to relaunch and land its sub-orbital New Shepard.

[Photo by AP Photo/John Raoux, File]