The Wright brothers are credited in the annals of scientific and aviation history with many firsts. The game changer that set the Wright brothers apart from their rivals—they were first into the air with the ability to control the three axis of flight: pitch, roll, and yaw. Controlling pitch, roll, and yaw gave them the ability to rise to altitude, bank and turn, and land the airplane safely.
Any pilot will confide, the most important control in flight is the ability to land safely.
One of the key performance indicators of the Wright brothers’ first military contract with the Signal Corps of the United States Army was the ability to land. In Signal Corps Specification, No. 486, issued on December 23, 1907, The Signal Corps of the United States Army requested a plane capable of carrying two men 125 miles at 40 miles an hour, remain airborne for at least one hour, and land safely.
This third week in November 2015, a new scientific and aviation milestone was reached. The Blue Origin’s rocket New Shepard launched successfully from its base in Texas, ascended to a sub-orbital space altitude exceeding 100 kilometers above the earth, and landed safely. The rocket booster touched down less than five feet from its targeted landing pad.
Landing the rocket booster is going to be the game changer for space exploration and commerce. Rockets now can be reused, reducing costs and accelerating the ability to launch return flights.