Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ private rocket company, launched the New Shephard rocket’s eighth test flight from West Texas on Sunday.
New Shephard reached space, cruising at 2,200 mph at one point, then came back down for a textbook autonomous landing on the launchpad.
A sonic boom shook the area as the booster sped back to Earth.
It was the second time they were reusing the rocket, the commentator on the company’s livestream said.
The company’s scientists and engineers have quietly been working on New Shephard for years
in the desert of West Texas.
After a few delays because of thunderstorms and final safety checks, the reusable rocket lifted off just after 1 p.m. ET.
“Mannequin Skywalker” was also onboard:
The capsule with the mannequin inside softly glided back to Earth with parachutes a few minutes after the booster returned.
‘Opening space for all’
If New Shephard is Bezos’ and Bule Origin’s answer to Elon Musk and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket
, theNew Glenn rocket under development will be their answer to Falcon Heavy, the largest rocket in use today. SpaceX’s first Falcon Heavy test flight was in February.
“Reusability allows us to fly the system again and again,” Blue Origin writes on its website. “With each flight, we’ll continuously improve the affordability of space exploration and research, opening space for all.”
Musk has a similar reason for making SpaceX rockets reusable — it costs a ton of money to send things into space. He and Bezos argue that if they can reuse rockets, it can significantly cut that cost, and make space travel and exploration much easier.
This week, Bezos told Mathias Döpfner
, the CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, that Blue Origin is “the most important work that I’m doing.” He also said they plan to put humans in the rockets for test flights at the end of this year or the beginning of 2019.
“Take the scenario, where you move out into the Solar System,” Bezos said. “The Solar System can easily support a trillion humans. And if we had a trillion humans, we would have a thousand Einsteins and a thousand Mozarts and unlimited (for all practical purposes) resources and solar power unlimited for all practical purposes. That’s the world that I want my great-grandchildren’s great-grandchildren to live in.”