Recently, both Blue Origin and SpaceX have flown rockets that many believe will be game changers for both cost of flight and the expansion of space development. Blue Origin flew their New Shepard spacecraft and rocket from their West Texas launch site to yet another safe launch and landing of both components. I have found out that this is the third flight of the same rocket and spacecraft with no modifications, or part replacements.
SpaceX tested their landing by barge for the sixth time during their most recent CRS flight to the International Space Station. This time, the rocket’s first stage landed safely on the barge.
This is a pretty big achievement as landing on a pitching deck is always challenging and its a small deck to land on in the first place. However, this is not the same rocket that landed safely at Cape Canaveral AFS during their first big success at landing first stages, that rocket is still in a hanger. So, while SpaceX has claimed huge cost savings potentially coming soon, and SES Global showing interest in investing launching their satellites on a reused first stage, this is still not total reusability and with the more dynamic flight profiles that SpaceX flies for both standard orbits and GTO orbital flight paths, it will be interesting to see how this develops in the future from a standpoint of cost of flight and the maintenance costs per flight. Will SpaceX be able to do, what Blue Origin does with sub-orbital flight with orbital flight?
So congrats to both SpaceX and Blue Origin on your continued quest for lower cost launch capabilities. It seems to be catching on with other launch companies claiming to be pursuing similar capacities like ULA and Airbus.
We shall see how this all shakes out (no pun intended)