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Reusable rocket sees first successful launch


Posted on Wednesday, 25 November, 2015 | Comment icon 26 comments

The world's first fully working reusable rocket. Image Credit: YouTube / Blue Origin
Blue Origin has beaten SpaceX in the race to build a rocket that can launch and then return to the Earth.
The firm, which is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, made it in to the history books this week thanks to the successful launch of its New Shepard spacecraft and BE-3 rocket booster.

Unlike conventional rockets which are designed to only be used once, the BE-3 is capable of launching a payload in to space and then returning to the Earth to be used again in the future.

Monday's spectacular launch was undeniably impressive as the unique rocket, which fell to an altitude of around 1.5km after separating from the spacecraft, reignited its engines to slow its descent before coming in for a well-controlled landing back on terra firma.
Regarded as a significant technical triumph, the rocket's success means that SpaceX, which has been attempting to develop reusable rockets for years, has actually been beaten to the punch.

The availability of reusable rockets could also provide a significant boost to the private space sector where traditional rocket launches have often proven to be prohibitively expensive.

A video showing the successful launch and landing of the rocket, along with a concept for how the technology could enable manned spaceflight in the future, can be viewed below.


Source: Economist | Comments (26)

Tags: Blue Origin, Rocket

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #17 Posted by Merc14 on 23 January, 2016, 18:44
"Once they have perfected the landing then they will attempt the complicated return procedure." Except the first successful SpaceX landing was back near the launch site on solid ground so they did attempt the 'complicated' return procedure before they perfected the landing. Why complicated return procedure? Guidance is complicated sure but they have to be able to do that with rockets and for a barge landing, similarly they still have to flip the rocket around. If anything, less complex as land doesn't move as a barge can. Thus, I don't really see any extra complications, just extra fuel requir... [More]
Comment icon #18 Posted by crandles57 on 24 January, 2016, 12:28
"position directly below the payload release" Payload release is usually at something like 75km altitude and travelling at 6000km/h at something like T+2min 25 sec. From there its momentum takes it up to somewhere near 100km and they do the boostback burn somewhere near the top of the path when travelling near horizontal. This starts at around T+3min 50 sec. To maximise payload, you want to use minimum fuel here so slow it down a little but still leave some speed in this direction that can be adequately slowed down by air resistance over rest of journey. The ideal location for barge is clearly... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by Merc14 on 24 January, 2016, 17:16
"position directly below the payload release" Payload release is usually at something like 75km altitude and travelling at 6000km/h at something like T+2min 25 sec. From there its momentum takes it up to somewhere near 100km and they do the boostback burn somewhere near the top of the path when travelling near horizontal. This starts at around T+3min 50 sec. To maximise payload, you want to use minimum fuel here so slow it down a little but still leave some speed in this direction that can be adequately slowed down by air resistance over rest of journey. The ideal location for barge is clearly... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 3 April, 2016, 8:38
Blue Origin launches same New Shepard spacecraft for third time Blue Origin launched its reusable New Shepard suborbital spacecraft on its third test flight Saturday, successfully boosting an unpiloted capsule out of the discernible atmosphere for a few minutes of weightlessness before a parachute descent to the company’s West Texas launch site.The New Shepard booster, meanwhile, plunged back to Earth tail first, re-igniting its hydrogen-fueled BE-3 engine at an altitude of just 3,635 feet. The engine quickly throttled up, four landing legs deployed and the rocket settled to a gentle touchdown... [More]
Comment icon #21 Posted by Merc14 on 3 April, 2016, 15:48
I wonder if they plan on using this tech on the BE-4 engined vehicles?
Comment icon #22 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 4 April, 2016, 5:42
Flight Three: Pushing the EnvelopeNew Shepard flew again on April 2, 2016 reaching an apogee of 339,178 feet or 103 kilometers. It was the third flight with the same hardware. We pushed the envelope on this flight, restarting the engine for the propulsive landing only 3,600 feet above the ground, requiring the BE-3 engine to start fast and ramp to high thrust fast.Credit: Blue OriginSource: Blue Origin - YouTube Channel
Comment icon #23 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 9 May, 2016, 23:52
Flight 3: GH2 Vent CamVideo from our New Shepard flight on April 2, 2016 showing flight of the booster from just ahead of reentry through descent and landing. Video is from the GH2 vent camera located just below the booster’s ring fin.Credit: Blue OriginSource: Blue Origin - YouTube Channel
Comment icon #24 Posted by Merc14 on 10 May, 2016, 0:53
That was beautiful to watch.
Comment icon #25 Posted by skookum on 10 May, 2016, 10:44
Seriously impressive. The altitudes reached are very impressive.
Comment icon #26 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 21 June, 2016, 0:00
Flight Four – One Chute Out New Shepard flew again on June 19, 2016, reaching an apogee of 331,504 feet (101.042 kilometers). It was the fourth flight with this booster and the sixth flight of this capsule. This time, we intentionally did not deploy one of three parachutes on the capsule and proved we could softly land with only two of them open. We’ve designed the capsule to have one or two levels of redundancy in every system needed for crew safety, including the separation systems, parachutes, reaction control thrusters, landing retro-thrusters, flight computers, and power systems. We also ... [More]


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