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Jeff Bezos' rocket company nails vertical landing

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Amazon's Jeff Bezos appears to have an edge over SpaceX's Elon Musk in the private-sector space race, as the two executives' companies work to develop reusable spacecraft that can take passengers into space and bring them back to Earth.

The Amazon CEO's space company Blue Origin landed its New Shepard rocket Monday, according to a tweet by Bezos, who founded the company. Blue Origin called the feat a historic accomplishment.

On its way up through the atmosphere, a passenger capsule detached from the rocket and later made it to land by parachute, according to a Blue Origin YouTube video.

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The company says the rocket reached suborbital space, where astronauts — and perhaps civilians some day — can experience weightlessness.

Musk's SpaceX has tried to land what it hopes to be a reusable Falcon 9 rocket onto a floating ocean barge twice this past year, both resulting in crashes.

Musk, also the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, took to Twitter on Tuesday to congratulate the Blue Origin team, but also to draw distinctions between SpaceX's launches and Blue Origin's.

https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/669129655597731841

In an email to CNBC, SpaceX spokesman Phil Larson also said, "We congratulate Blue Origin on the progress they're making with vertical takeoff and landing of their booster."

Blue Origin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.