Blue Origin successfully launches and lands reusable rocket
Jeff Bezos' commercial human space flight vehicle achieves controlled vertical landing ahead of SpaceX and Virgin Galactic.
Named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space, the New Shepard reusable VTVL vehicle is comprised of a six-crew capsule and a rocket booster powered by a single BE-3 liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen engine. At liftoff, the BE-3 delivers 110,000 pounds of thrust. On its return journey, the booster descended under guided flight and re-ignited its booster 4,896 feet above ground, which slowed the vehicle to 4.4 mph for a historic powered vertical landing.
During ascent, the company says astronauts will experience 3x the force of gravity as the spacecraft accelerates to Mach 3.72 through the atmosphere and reaches the internationally recognized boundary of space (100 kilometers). The crew capsule then separates from the booster and coasts into space, before reentering the atmosphere a few weightless minutes later and deploying three main parachutes for landing.
“Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts—a used rocket,” said Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin. “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.”