Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos made his first tweet earlier today, celebrating Blue Origin’s successful rocket landing. It is the first time a rocket has landed back on Earth from space without blowing up, which could pave the way to reusable rockets in the near future.
Blue Origin is Bezos’ aerospace startup, a privately funded firm that is developing technologies to lower cost and increase reliability.
The rarest of beasts – a used rocket. Controlled landing not easy, but done right, can look easy. Check out video: https://t.co/9OypFoxZk3
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) November 24, 2015
Reusable rockets should lower the cost of space travel to the point where it is as expensive as a long-distance flight, by removing the need to build rocket equipment for every mission. This is necessary for space travel to become mainstream and sustaining multiplanetary life, according to SpaceX founder Elon Musk.
Even though Blue Origin’s landing is a huge success, the New Shepard only flew to a test altitude of 329,000 feet, which is the lower than low Earth orbit, where most of the satellites are located. That makes it less difficult than landing a rocket from orbit, which is what SpaceX is trying to achieve.
Elon Musk explained the difference on Twitter shortly after congratulating Jeff Bezos and the Blue Origin team for the achievement.
Getting to space needs ~Mach 3, but GTO orbit requires ~Mach 30. The energy needed is the square, i.e. 9 units for space and 900 for orbit.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 24, 2015
Blue Origin was originally only focused on suborbital flight, but in the past two years has become more involved in contracts for the United Launch Alliance. The firm plans to build a new rocket engine for ULA, alongside working on the primary upper stage for the Vulcan rocket.
The tweet was Jeff Bezos’ first, even though he has owned the @JeffBezos handle since July 2008. It is not clear if it came from Bezos or from his social media team, if he even has one.
Bezos has a few interests outside of Amazon, the biggest being Blue Origin and The Washington Post. He is also an active investor in 35 different companies including Airbnb, Twitter, and Uber.