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Jeff Bezos’ space company does world first in landing reusable rocket

The Amazon chief used Twitter for the first time to announce historic landing of Blue Orbit rocket, but got trolled by Elon Musk

Jeff Bezos’ privately-funded space company Blue Origin announced a historic first today – it successfully landed a fired rocket back on Earth after an unmanned flight to space.

Bezos announced the compelling test flight video on Twitter – the first time he has ever tweeted – calling the achievement the “rarest of beasts.”

In this test flight, the rocket separated itself from the New Shepard vehicle, which flew to an altitude of 93km on Monday, at almost 4 times the speed of sound.

Usually, the rocket would have fallen back to Earth and been unable to complete any more flights. “Rockets have always been expendable,” Bezoswrote in blog post about the landing. “Not anymore.”

In this case, it was guided towards a launchpad on Earth where it slowed down and landed, intact. This means the rocket can be re-used for subsequent flights, which companies like Blue Origin claim will make spaceflight far less expensive.

Bezos told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that he planned to start commercial suborbital flights with tourists potentially in less than two years. ā€œIā€™m thinking it could be sometime in 2017,ā€ he said.

But not everyone was as triumphant about the event. Rival space entrepreneur and billionaire Elon Musk responded on Twitter saying it wasn’t really that rare, linking to his own SpaceX Grasshopper rocket which has done multiple flights – although it hadn’t gone as far as Blue Orbit’s 93km distance.

He then went on to Tweet from his own account about the distinction between space and orbit, and why getting into orbit was a lot harder than reaching the edge of space.

Mr Musk’s private space transport company SpaceX has also beenattempting to land its Falcon 9 rocket but has failed to do so yet. In June, it exploded after lift-off.

Earlier this month, SpaceX was awarded its first Nasa contract to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station.

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