Blue Origin's new Shepherd has once again launched and landed successfully, making this the fourth re-use of the same rocket hardware. This not only continues to prove the viability of the passenger rocket, but showed that even with a deliberate parachute failure, the capsule can come down safely.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYYTuZCjZcE']
Along with a few Twitter battles with Space X CEO Elon Musk, Blue Origin has been pushing for a rocket-based solution to take people to the edge of space for some time now. Backed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the company has gone from a single launch and landing of the first stage booster and its passenger craft payload, to completing four successful launches in a row.
This has helped keep the costs down for the hardware, but it's still a way off being ready for the public. Launches like this one continue to show that the hardware design is sound, but specifically this time a parachute was designed to fail. This left the passenger pod with just two parachutes and its landing booster. Even without the added support of the third chute, it landed safely and would have left any passengers – were they aboard – unharmed.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) June 19, 2016
This was also the first time that Blue Origin has live streamed the launch of the New Shepherd rocket, showing the engines firing, the eventual separation between the booster and crew capsule and their individual touch downs. The booster performed its usual, nerve-wracking suicide burn landing, while the crew capsule slowly fell to earth in a much more comfortable manner.
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KitGuru Says: Congratulations to the Blue Origin team. That's another very successful launch and shows that we're getting very close to launching humans into space on a budget that many more people will be able to afford.