Jeff Bezos’ first tweet celebrates New Shepard rocket landing

24 Nov 2015

Image of the New Shepard rocket taking off from its Texas launch site. Image via Blue Origin

Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has finally published his first tweet to celebrate the landing of his space venture’s New Shepard rocket, which has, for the first time, successfully landed following a test launch.

Jeff Bezos has been heavily invested in the project, which is part of his commercial space company, Blue Origin, which has now cracked the method of taking a rocket and landing it for reuse.

Much like SpaceX’s unsuccessful attempts to land a rocket from Earth’s orbit, the plan to create a reusable rocket is considered a crucial step for significantly lowering the cost of space travel and opening it up to even more commercial space interests.

According to Blue Origin, the New Shepard’s successful landing was down to its architecture and design, seen with its unique ring fin shifting the centre of pressure to help control re-entry and descent.

Additionally, eight enormous drag brakes deployed during its descent to reduce the vehicle’s terminal speed to 623km/h through 192km/h high-altitude crosswinds to a location precisely 1,524m above the landing pad. During its last 30m descent, it slowed down to a crawling 7km/h to touchdown on the pad.

Bezos in his tweet described the successful landing as “the rarest of beasts” before going on to say it looks a lot easier than it actually was. The video certainly looks cool and offers great potential for future reusable rockets, but not everyone is so keen to celebrate. 

Somewhat dampening the party, SpaceX’s founder Elon Musk has come into both congratulate Bezos and Blue Origin, while downplaying its actual achievements. According to Musk, the key difference between his failed attempts and Bezos’ success is the definitions of ‘orbit’ and ‘space’.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic