Blue Origin Beats SpaceX to Rocket Landing, but SpaceX Is Aiming Higher

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX has made several attempts to shoot a rocket into space and land it back on Earth—or on a drone barge in the ocean, anyway. Now, Blue Origin, founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, has managed to actually do it, though there’s an important difference in what the companies are trying to achieve.

That doesn’t make Blue Origin’s success any less impressive, though, and they put out an fittingly impressive video to highlight the event:

Blue Origin’s “New Shepard” rocket flew up to sub-orbital space (329,839 feet or 100.5 kilometers), where it detaches its crew capsule so that astronauts aboard the craft can experience a few minutes of weightlessness before returning to Earth with the aid of parachutes. The rocket portion of the vehicle, on the other hand, falls safely back to Blue Origin’s Texas spaceport, where it reignites its main engine for a powered vertical landing.

That means the vehicle can be reused for future trips to space, which is the next big hurdle for spaceflight to cross. SpaceX’s Elon Musk was quick to congratulate them on the successful test flight:

However, he was also quick to point out that there’s quite a bit of difference in putting an object just barely into space to fall down moments later and putting an object into orbit, where it could provide supplies to a space station and then return for another run:

After all, SpaceX has sent rockets up into the air and landed them before, too. Blue Origin’s rocket just went a bit higher to achieve the same thing and set a new record, whereas SpaceX’s failed attempts have been for a very different type of flight. In the end, both of them are doing impressive things that leave us excited for the future of space travel, and this success is a big win for all of us.

(via The Verge, image via Blue Origin)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.