Blue Origin, the space company owned by Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com fame, flew their New Shepard reusable suborbital rocket vehicle for the third time last Saturday. The rocket takes off with the rocket booster and crew capsule connected together but just above 100 km in altitude the two separate. The crew capsule falls back to earth for a parachute landing while the booster does a vertical tail-first powered return using its liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen engine.
In this test flight they decided to wait till the booster was at low altitude before turning on the engine. As you will see in the video, it comes down really fast and then brakes smoothly for a soft landing:
In a year or two, the New Shepard vehicles will fly people above the threshold to space but for the time being scientific and technology research payloads will be frequent customers. Here are videos describing the two experiments that flew on the above flight:
A University of Central Florida experiment designed to mimic impacts between objects in microgravity is flying aboard the next flight of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle. Principal Investigator: Dr. Joshua Colwell
A Southwest Research Institute experiment designed to better understand the rocky soil on small, near-Earth asteroids is flying aboard the next flight of Blue Origin’s reusable New Shepard space vehicle. Principal Investigator: Dr. Dan Durda