Blue Origin launches rocket to space in extreme test of crew capsule


It's another launch day for Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin, as the spaceflight company launches its curiously phallic New Shepard rocket toward the stars for a test flight. About 20 seconds after the capsule separated, the capsule fired its solid-propellant escape motor in a planned test of its performance at high altitudes. Its effectiveness is essential to ensuring the safety of any people who might ride aboard the capsule in the future.

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. This propelled the capsule to an altitude of roughly 119 kilometers (74 miles), a record height for the company. Such systems are created to fire quickly and separate the crew capsule from the booster during an emergency.

Editor's note: Blue Origin successfully completed the ninth test flight of its New Shepard rocket Tuesday from its test facility in west Texas.

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

However, Blue Origin rebuked the amount in a statement.

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The uncrewed test flight is the third one using Blue Origin's most recent model of the single-stage vehicle.

New Shepard is the first of a potential line of vehicles for Blue Origin.

Blue Origin's New Shepard booster on its launch pad in West Texas.

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. "We are really curious how microgravity affects the structure and properties of things, and we hope this flight will help us understand the science behind it", said James Yenbamroong, chief executive and founder of mu Space, in a preflight statement. Also, ticket prices for a trip into space haven't yet been decided, noted Cornell. "It's coming", she said. Launch commentator Ariane Cornell promised it would be soon. There is speculation that Bezos himself, the world's richest person, will be among the first people to fly on New Shepard. Those missions will rely on the bigger, more powerful New Glenn rocket still under development.