Jeff Bezos’ rocket company beats SpaceX to landing its first rocket

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Eric Burger via Ars Technica:

Jeff Bezos finally one-upped Elon Musk in space. On Tuesday Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, announced its New Shepard space vehicle had ascended to 100.5km and returned successfully to the ground near its West Texas launch site.

“Now safely tucked away at our launch site in West Texas is the rarest of beasts—a used rocket,” said Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, in a statement. “Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle flew a flawless mission—soaring to 329,839 feet and then returning through 119mph 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.”

Like Blue Origin, Musk’s SpaceX is attempting to build a reusable Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 booster, but so far the company’s efforts to land its rocket on a mobile, seaborne platform have not been successful. What SpaceX is attempting is more difficult because the Falcon 9 rocket flies payloads into orbit, which requires considerably more thrust. Blue Origin’s rocket only made a comparatively easier suborbital flight. Nevertheless, it is a significant achievement.

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