American space firm Blue Origin successfully completed the third launch and vertical landing of its reusable New Shepard rocket on Saturday, company founder and Internet entrepreneur Jeff Bezos said.
“Flawless BE-3 restart and perfect booster landing,” tweeted Bezos, referring to the BE-3 engine used to land the rocket back at the company’s testing site in Texas.
The unmanned crew capsule also landed safely, using parachutes, said the executive, who founded online giant Amazon and also owns The Washington Post newspaper.
The breakthroughs by Blue Origin and parallel efforts by rival Internet mogul Elon Musk’s SpaceX open up the potential for cutting costs for space travel and making rockets as reusable as airplanes.
In November, Bezos called the accomplishment a “game-changer” which opens the door to lower costs in space travel and his vision of people living and working in space.
Bezos said in a tweet on Friday that the rocket’s engines would be restarting just 3,600 feet (1.1 kilometres) from the ground during the vertical landing attempt on Saturday, with the rocket hitting the ground in six seconds if they failed to work properly.
The New Shepard can reach an altitude of 333,000 feet, considered the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
Previous test flights for the New Shepard were in January and November.