When Jeff Bezos isn’t welcoming Elon Musk’s SpaceX to the space flight clubs, he’s busy building new ones. Previously, Bezos’ Blue Origin managed to take their rocket to sub-orbital space and land back on Earth in November, 2015. Musk’s SpaceX managed a similar feat in December before the rocket tipped over and blow up .
Now, Blue Origin has managed to launch and land the New Shepard booster -- used in November -- in one piece. Planes do that all the time, but for space (orbital) rockets to a re-launch and land again safely, is the race SpaceX and Blue Origin are running in.
If they manage to crack the re-usable rocket formula, space travel has the potential to be affordable and enable longer space travel. Last November, it the New Shepard reached 329,839 feet and on the relaunch, hit the 333,582 feet mark.
Commenting on the achievement, Blue Origin said , “When you do a vertical landing, you’re solving the classic inverted pendulum problem, and the inverted pendulum problem gets a bit easier as the pendulum gets a bit bigger. Try balancing a pencil on the tip of your finger. Now try it with a broomstick. The broomstick is simpler because its greater moment of inertia makes it easier to balance. We solved the inverted pendulum problem on New Shepard with an engine that dynamically gimbals to balance the vehicle as it descends. And since New Shepard is the smallest booster we will ever build, this carefully choreographed dance atop our plume will just get easier from here. We’re already more than three years into development of our first orbital vehicle. Though it will be the small vehicle in our orbital family, it’s still many times larger than New Shepard. I hope to share details about this first orbital vehicle this year.”