Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches spacecraft higher than ever


Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches spacecraft higher than ever

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			Watch Blue Origin launch its New Shepard spacecraft live right here					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner

Space Watch Blue Origin launch its New Shepard spacecraft live right here Mike Wehner

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. Once it reached the threshold of space, the capsule fired its motors, shooting it away from the booster in a maneuver the company said would "push the rocket to its limits".

During the test flight, the rocket was loaded up with both the Blue Origin test dummy - nicknamed Mannequin Skywalker, which took its third flight to space today - and a host of science payloads.

The reusable New Shepard booster is created to take off from a launch pad, climb to the internationally-recognized boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), and land nearby with rocket thrust and aerobrakes.

New Shepard performed as expected during today's flight, appearing to ace the test, Cornell said.

Blue Origin has provided only vague schedules about when human flights would begin, with company officials saying recently they anticipated starting to fly humans on test flights by the end of this year.

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

New Shepard's reusable booster comes in for a landing.

"It's an important test in our march towards flying humans into space, which hopefully will be soon", Ariane Cornell, head of astronaut strategy and sales at Blue Origin, during a company webcast of the test. (Blue Origin via You Tube) New Shepard's capsule fires its retros as it touches down for a landing. Its tickets cost $250,000.

Blue Origin's billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, has grand designs for moving people and commerce into space, and his efforts begin with Blue Origin's rockets. "We have not set ticket pricing and have had no serious discussions inside of Blue on the topic", said the statement.

"But we've got our eye on the prize", she added.

Other experiments included one to measure magnetic fields inside the capsule and another to test a vibration isolation platform that could be used by future payloads to further reduce vibrations for "higher precision microgravity studies". There is speculation that Bezos himself, the world's richest person, will be among the first people to fly on New Shepard.

The booster and spacecraft blasted off from the company's launch site in West Texas shortly after 11 a.m. The New Glenn will compete with United Launch Alliance's upcoming Vulcan rocket and with SpaceX boosters in the USA launch market.

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