Fully Charged: Blue Origin successfully reuses rocket, and Google owes UK £130 million

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Blue Origin reuses landed rocket

Commercial spaceflight organizations are trying to make space travel significantly cheaper by landing and reusing rockets, with SpaceX being the highest-profile contender of the bunch. But Blue Origin, the company founded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, just beat it to the punch by reusing - and relanding - a previously landed rocket in a Friday test flight.

As seen in the video above, the New Shepard rocket - which was originally launched and landed in November - takes off, goes 63 miles above the Earth's surface, and then lands upright once more. SpaceX just successfully landed a Falcon 9 rocket last month, but the company has decided not to reuse it; another Falcon 9 rocket launched this week tipped over at landing and exploded.

Blue Origin's rockets don't fly nearly as fast or as high as SpaceX's, so a direct comparison isn't necessarily fair; Blue Origin's are suborbital, while SpaceX carries cargo and eventually passengers into orbit and space. But this latest development shows that multiple private companies are starting to do huge things with space travel, which can only mean even more impressive advances ahead.

[Source: Blue Origin via The Verge]

Google to pay UK £130 million

Many multinational corporations have been accused of using loopholes to dodge taxes in certain territories, but Google will finally settle up with the UK: Alphabet, its parent company, has agreed to pay £130 million in back taxes to the UK to settle claims of tax evasion.

The settlement will cover taxes from 2005-on, following an evaluation that Google paid just US$16 million in UK corporate tax on $18 billion in revenue between 2006-11. Google will now pay UK taxes based on revenue specifically from UK advertisers going forward.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs says that Google is paying its full amount due, but not everyone agrees: Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC that it seems like a "sweetheart deal," and that he'll seek an investigation. Meanwhile, Apple is under investigation by the European Commission over tax evasion that could result in back taxes of more than US$8 billion due.

[Source: Bloomberg]

Big delay for Walking Dead shooter

It's been a year and a half since Overkill Software - the team behind the great Payday heist series - announced a cooperative shooter based on The Walking Dead (first teaser above), and the zombie-blaster was set to debut sometime this year. But it's going to be a much longer wait, it seems, as now the game is likely to appear late next year instead.

Why the delay? Well, Korean publisher Smilegate just made a big investment (about US$40 million) in the game's publisher, Starbreeze Studios, and now its priorities will be shuffled a bit as it develops a Western version of smash Asian shooter CrossFire. The new Walking Dead game will reportedly be expanded as a result of the delay, and launch simultaneously in Asia as well as elsewhere.

[Source: Polygon]

New Force Awakens VFX breakdown

Did you watch last week's visual effects mini-documentary on Star Wars: The Force Awakens? If so, we've got a little more stunning footage to soak in - this nearly five-minute clip breaks down some of the more impressive effects in the film and shows how certain scenes and characters were built from layers and layers of CGI atop practical footage. Amazing stuff, again.

[Source: YouTube]