Blue Origin rocket completes 'picture perfect' 4th test launch and landing (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
Owned by Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin may give Space X a run for its money, with both firms reaching for the stars in the vertical take-off and landing rocket business.
In an unmanned flight from the Blue Origin test base in Culberson County, Texas, on Sunday, the New Shepard rocket made a graceful supersonic ascent and descent before its secondary crew capsule successfully trialed landing without one of its main parachutes.
Live streaming to thousands of viewers, Blue Origin commentators described it as a “picture perfect” landing.
In posts to his Twitter account, Bezos told followers that Sunday’s flight would “test one-chute-out failure scenario [and] push envelope on booster maneuvers.”
The New Shepard, named after the first American in space Alan Shepard, is a two-stage vehicle that launches from the ground as a single rocket.
As it reaches a certain altitude it splits into two pieces, with a six-man capsule carrying astronauts to the edge of the atmosphere, while the initial rocket booster makes a controlled, autonomous return to Earth.
The astronaut capsule, a spacious module designed so that its passengers can experience weightlessness, is said to be 10 times larger than the Mercury spacecraft used by NASA’s Alan Shepard in 1961.
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin testing New Shepard rocket landing for fourth time today. Here's how it works: pic.twitter.com/LhYirWyOVP— Luke Holohan (@Lukeholohan) June 19, 2016
It too is reusable and returns to earth “under parachutes for a smooth landing in the same way as the earliest space pioneers,” according to the Blue Origin website.
Bezos and his team have been undertaking what they describe as an“incremental development process”during the development of their rocket. It’s an approach that fits in with the Blue Origin motto: Gradatim Ferociter, or “step by step, ferociously.”
Blue Origin made its first successful launch and landing in November 2015.
So far the craft has reached heights of around 339,000 ft, with its previous tests capturing incredible suborbital footage from space.