Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches spacecraft higher than ever

Eleanor Moreno | 19 July, 2018, 07:44

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

Blue Origin will once again be putting a mannequin onboard the New Shepard capsule today to measure the various forces it feels as it rides the powerful rocket skyward.

Blue Origin launched a New Shepard rocket to space earlier in April.

However, all tests - from test 2 to test 8 - have seen the booster return for a safe pinpoint landing, followed shortly after by the capsule parachuting to a landing site nearby.

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

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

Numerous payloads will be flying in the spacecraft during the test, ranging from global customers, such as Thailand's "mu Space-1" - which includes an assortment of scientific and medical items, several textile materials they plan to use on their future space suit and apparel, and other special articles for their community partners - through to a suite of payloads from Blue Origin employees as a part of their internal "Fly My Stuff" program.


"Just another day at the office", said Cornell.

But if all goes well, she said, "it's going to be a sweet ride".

Blue Origin tested the motor at a lower altitude during a memorable flight back in October 2016, but the company's engineers wanted to make sure that the system would work as well at a higher altitude, where the atmosphere thins out to near-nothingness.

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.

Blue Origin has yet to announce when it will start taking reservations or how much flights will cost. That first crewed flight could take place before the end of the year.

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. A separate employee said prices would begin at $200,000, according to Reuters.

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

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