Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches spacecraft higher than ever

Katie Ramirez
July 19, 2018

The launch also went into a brief hold 8 minutes before New Shepard - a reusable rocket-capsule duo - was due to take off from a pad at Blue Origin's West Texas test site.

Blue Origin, owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, plans to webcast Wednesday's test flight, which is set for takeoff at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT; 9 a.m. CDT) from the company's sprawling test site north of Van Horn, Texas, around 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of El Paso.

The test will simulate an emergency high altitude "escape motor" test.

The vehicle's propulsion module boosted the crew capsule on a standard trajectory.

TESTING. TESTING. Blue Origin wasn't the only company testing the waters with this New Shepard rocket launch; the rocket's capsule contained a variety of devices and experiments for scientists and educators conducting microgravity research.

While this flight was primarily meant to demonstrate the vehicle's escape system, the crew capsule carried eight research and technology demonstration payloads, similar to what the vehicle has done on previous suborbital test flights.

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"We'll be doing a high altitude escape motor test - pushing the rocket to its limits", noted Blue Origin ahead of the test.

Many have wondered over the last few years how much a ticket on Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle will cost.

This time, the company is also flying a suite of materials from Blue Origin employees as a part of its internal "Fly My Stuff" program.

The reusable New Shepard rocket settles to a picture-perfect touchdown.

Although there weren't any people aboard this test flight, Blue Origin's test dummy, Mannequin Skywalker, was strapped in a chair to measure the gravitation forces a real body might experience during a somewhat violent abort.

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. "At Blue Origin, we're all about safety", she said. Launch commentator Ariane Cornell promised it would be soon. The company is already selling tickets for adventurous travelers who want to spend a short while in space, and you can stick your name on the list if you've got a spare $200,000 lying around. The hardware used in previous tests has been retired and put on exhibit at Blue Origin's Florida rocket factory, where the orbital-class New Glenn rocket will be built.

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