Blue Origin, the commercial spaceflight company founded by Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos, claims to have flown and landed the world’s first truly reusable suborbital rocket.
The New Shephard rocket lifted off from Blue Origin’s launch facility in Van Horn, Texas, on Nov. 23, 2015, reached about 2,800mph, and flew to more than 62 miles above the ground, the company said in a press release.
After deploying a space capsule, the rocket then plummeted back toward the ground, reignited its booster, and — in a world first — gently and safely touched down in the middle of a landing target.
Rockets cost millions of dollars and are normally lost after each launch. So a design that could be refueled over and over again would completely change spaceflight by dramatically decreasing the cost of launches. Blue Origin seems to have done this for the first time ever, at least for suborbital rockets — launchers that fly in a high, dramatic arc and could provide paying passengers with a few minutes of zero-gravity play time, but can’t put a spacecraft into orbit.
SpaceX is trying a similar feat with larger, more powerful rockets than could accelerate a spacecraft fast enough to break the chains of gravity and circle the Earth. But that company has, so far, not succeeded.
Watch a video of Blue Origin’s historic test, below:
We’ll be updating this story as we learn more.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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