Blue Origin Reaches Another Milestone: Reusable Rocket Launches and Lands Safely

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket has successfully launched and landed a second time. Image: Blue Origin

On Friday, January 22nd, commercial space company Blue Origin successfully launched and landed its reusable rocket, New Shepard, at their launch facility in Texas. This is the second flight for New Shepard, showing that reusable rockets are on their way to becoming the launch system of choice. New Shepard launched, travelled to apogee at 101.7 kilometres, (63.19 miles) and then descended to land safely at their site in West Texas. This is the first successful reuse of a rocket in history.Reusable rockets are an important development for space travel. Rockets are enormously expensive, and having to trash each rocket after a single use makes commercial space flight a real challenge. Blue Origin—and other companies like SpaceX—are blazing a trail to cheaper space flight with their reusable designs. This is great, not only for all the good sciencey reasons that we love so much, but because eventually civilian space enthusiasts may be able to travel past the Karman Line without having to sell all their possessions to do so. (Reserve your ticket here.)This video shows New Shepard launching, travelling and sticking its landing. At the heart of New Shepard is its dynamically gimballed engine, which aims itself as it approaches the ground. This system allows the rocket to land precisely and safely, and is at the heart of its reusability. It’s also a system that scales well: rather than New Shepard just showing that reusable rockets are a feasible concept, but will require significant advancements before being scalable to larger payloads, the gimballed engine system will actually perform better with larger mass. This is because of the inverted pendulum problem.The Blue Origin website explains it well:

“Try balancing a pencil on the tip of your finger. Now try it with a broomstick. The broomstick is simpler —> Read More