Blue Origin, the space company founded by Jeff Bezos has completed its highest spaceflight ever. Not only did the rocket, carrying the passenger capsule reach the edge of space, but also nailed its landing in the test.
Blue Origin's rocket- New Shepard 2.0 and a passenger capsule, complete with test dummy "Mannequin Skywalker", both have been launched and landed before, notes a report by Space.com. This weekend's test launch lifted off from the company's own Texas launch site. The test was interrupted by several hours of delays caused by thunderstorms, noted the report. It launched flawlessly, reached the edge of space, and an altitude of 106 km. About 100 km is generally accepted as the boundary line for space, notes the report.
"Another spectacular test mission," Ariane Cornell of Blue Origin said during a launch webcast. "Everything looks nominal from here."
The test took New Shepard to an altitude that was a bit higher than Blue Origin's usual 100 km test mark, notes the report. "Today, we're going to push the system a little bit harder," Cornell said during the launch webcast.
Blue Origin's Sunday launch was the second consecutive successful launch by the company since their December 2017 test, notes the report. An earlier version of the Shepard was even used in missions in 2015 and 2016 before it was retired, making way for the 2.0 version of the rocket.
From launch to landing, the entire duration of the flight test was just over 10 minutes long. In this time, New Shepard lifted off, separated the capsule, and made a landing. The capsule made a soft landing using parachutes and its own set of retro rockets, notes the report.
Blue Origin is building the capsule to carry passengers and space tourists. It can carry six people into sub-orbital space flights. These are trips that reach space, but do not circle the Earth. This capsule can also be used to carry commercial payloads and space-based experiments, notes the report. While their capsule is almost ready for human testing, the company is yet to announce how much it would cost per ticket to see Earth from space.
Blue Origin is also developing a new, larger rocket that can actually deliver payloads to orbit called the New Glen that is set to launch from Cape Canaveral in the 2020s, notes the report.