Bezos’s Blue Origin beats Musk’s SpaceX in Race for World’s First Reusable Rocket

Some say that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin made history last week when it beat SpaceX to the punch and successfully landed its “New Shepherd” spacecraft. But are SpaceX and Blue Origin really comparable?

[DIGEST: The Economist; TECHNEWSWORLD; The Verge]

The tech world is all abuzz with the latest from Jeff Bezos’ rocketry firm, Blue Origin. Last week, the firm successfully launched and landed its “New Shepherd” spacecraft.

Some say the achievement secured Blue Origin’s place in history—ahead of Elon Musk’s SpaceX—as the developer of the first reusable vertical rocket. SpaceX has had a few famously fiery hiccups in attempting to land its tall, slender Falcon 9 spacecraft.

Bezos certainly deserves bragging rights, but the direct comparison to SpaceX might be a bit off the mark.

The gateway to commercial spaceflight

The development of reusable rockets is widely seen as the next significant step toward transforming space travel from the exceptional to the everyday. The public has yet to evince much enthusiasm for the project, but the lack of popular excitement could be due, at least in part, to a sense that spaceflight is just too expensive to be commercially viable.

Widespread commercial spaceflight has remained out of reach largely due to its exorbitant cost. After all, rockets don’t come cheap, and most are only designed to go only in one direction: up. After they’ve launched, they tend to break apart as they plummet back down through Earth’s atmosphere–not a terribly practical means of conveyance. As The Economist put it, “[i]t is a bit like blowing up your car after every trip and having to buy a new one.” But, with the ability to reuse rockets, costs become more manageable.

It’s no surprise, then, that Jeff Bezos boasted about Blue Origin’s success on Twitter, saying: “[t]he rarest of beasts – a used rocket. Controlled landing not easy,

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