Reusable rockets are all the rage in commercial spaceflight these days, and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin is now three for three in launch and landing attempts of its suborbital spacecraft New Shepard.
Designed for space tourism, an unmanned version of the six-passenger craft launched from an undisclosed site in West Texas on April 2 and landed softly on another targeted site. Afterwards, the company revealed the test had taken place and released images to document its success.
Even the passenger capsule was successfully recovered after fluttering to Earth on a parachute.
“Perfect booster landing,” Bezos tweeted. “Congrats Blue team on today’s (flight)!”
Blue Origin tested the New Shepard in January and November.
Bezos recently said crewed test flights of the New Shepard will begin next year and commercial passengers may start by 2018.
Meantime, Elon Musk’s SpaceX — whose test landings understandably have gone less smoothly due to the tougher challenges of landing orbital-size rockets — is scheduled to launch its next cargo shuttle to the International Space Station on April 8. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based company holds NASA contracts both for unmanned and eventual manned missions to the multinational space station.