Sci-tech

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches spacecraft higher than ever

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches spacecraft higher than ever

The New Shepard reusable rocket lifted off from the Washington-based company's suborbital facility in Van Horn, Texas, about 10 a.m.

During the 2016 test, ignition of the escape motor did not noticeably affect the reusable booster, which continued to fire before shutting down normally and falling back to Earth for a rocket-powered upright landing. One such payload including an experiment funded both privately and by NASA, called Solstar, which tested WiFi capabilities in space.

Blue Origin officials said in April the New Shepard could fly with people for the first time by the end of this year, followed by commercial riders. It should start at 8 a.m. PT.

The test required sending the capsule up to between 390,000 and 400,000 feet (roughly 120 kilometers) and then waiting for about 20 seconds for the booster to clear, ensuring that its exhaust wouldn't interfere with the capsule test.

While testing with New Shepard continues, work on Blue Origin's next vehicle, the New Glenn is pressing on, albeit mainly away from the attention of the media. Unlike NASA's Mercury and Apollo spacecraft, which jettisoned their escape rockets before reaching orbit, Blue Origin's is built into the capsule.

Although Blue Origin is yet to provide details, it is understood the company has already purchased the first landing ship for returning New Glenn boosters.

More than half a dozen scientific payloads were packed inside as well, plus mementos from Blue Origin employees that were included as part of an internal "Fly My Stuff" program. "Mannequin had a smooth, smooth landing".

"Just another day at the office", said Cornell. "At Blue Origin, we're all about safety", she said.

This was the third trip to space for both this New Shepherd rocket booster and the crew capsule, both created to be reusable like SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster and Dragon capsules.

The company's Florida team was watching today's webcast, as was the team at Blue Origin's headquarters in Kent, Wash., where New Shepard hardware is manufactured.

Strapped into reclining seats at launch, the New Shepard passengers will be able to unstrap and briefly float about the cabin near the top of its trajectory when they will experience five to six minutes of weightlessness and enjoy the view from the largest windows ever built into an operational spacecraft.

At the time of publishing, Blue Origin Origin did not reply to questions about how many more tests flights are needed before testing with humans begins.

"It's coming", said Cornell, who's in charge of astronaut sales as well as launch commentary.


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