Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

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

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

Jeff Bezos' rocket company Blue Origin is launching its New Shepard rocket for the ninth time.

Blue Origin is owned by Jeffrey P. Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

The webcast below should begin about 20 minutes before the test starts.

"An awesome feature of New Shepard is its modular interior design".

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.

Eventually, up to six passengers at a time could get on board the New Shepard spaceship, which flies under autonomous control. The team will then attempt to safely land the booster, as it did during a similar test back in 2016.

Booster landing
New Shepard’s reusable booster comes in for a landing

These latest tests were also created to push the booster to its limit, which led to Blue Origin noting the potential they could lose the booster, not least during the focused testing on the escape system, centered around a solid motor firing for two seconds to fly the capsule free of a failing booster.

In a brief statement announcing Wednesday's flight, Blue Origin offered no further details on the objectives or the technical parameters for the planned high-altitude escape motor test. Last week, it was reported that the firm's space trips could cost at least $200,000.

It's also not yet known how much Blue Origin plans to charge for rides in a New Shepard capsule.

"We are excited to join the upcoming New Shepard flight". We have a flight test schedule and schedules of those types always have uncertainties and contingencies. "Anyone predicting dates is guessing", according to the statement. One company sent up a system created to provide reliable WiFi connectivity in space, while another added a number of textiles to the capsule so they could test their viability for use in space suits.

Wednesday's flight will be the ninth by a New Shepard rocket, and the third using Blue Origin's most recent model of the single-stage vehicle, which debuted in December and made its second launch and landing in April. Meanwhile, today's mission 9 included, for the first time ever, employee cargo from the firm's "Fly My Stuff" program.

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