Reusable Rockets: Space Travel's 'Holy Grail' Almost Here

The Holy Grail of rocketry looks more and more achievable. At the end of November, the private spaceflight company Blue Origin sent a rocket to suborbital space and brought it back down for a controlled touchdown in West Texas. And earlier this year, competing private spaceflight company SpaceX twice nearly succeeded in soft-landing the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on an uncrewed ship in the Atlantic Ocean during orbital launches. These accomplishments show that developing fully and rapidly reusable rockets — a key innovation that could slash the cost of spaceflight — is far from a pipe dream.

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