Washington, D.C. — Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) Member Blue Origin celebrated a remarkable milestone yesterday, announcing that it safely and successfully completed a controlled, vertical return of the New Shepard rocket booster to its West Texas launch pad after reaching a planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 km). The fully-reusable spacecraft is designed to carry astronauts on a suborbital spaceflight to experience weightlessness and view the Earth through the largest windows to ever fly in space. The New Shepard vehicle also expands access and capabilities for suborbital researchers through NASA STMD’s Flight Opportunities Program.
Through this significant landing, Blue Origin has demonstrated the technical viability of reusability, a revolutionary approach to spaceflight that counts fellow CSF Member’s Masten Space Systems and SpaceX among its pioneers. Reusable rocketry holds the promise of driving down launch costs and decreasing turn-around time.
“This is yet another example that confirms the USA’s successful equation for a 21st century space industry: innovative regulatory framework combined with open access to NASA’s institutional knowledge and commercial ingenuity, perseverance, and patience can achieve great things,” said Eric Stallmer, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
“Through the flexible regulatory framework prescribed by the recently-passed CSLCA, spacecraft designers have leeway to design safe and innovative vehicles, like Blue Origin’s New Shepard, that continue to push the bounds of our technological advancement in space,” added CSF Executive Director Tommy Sanford. “Supporting a regulatory environment that catalyzes innovation and ingenuity in design was Congress’s intent with the CSLCA and, as the recent flight of New Shepard demonstrates, it clearly payed off.”