Published: Thu, July 19, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Watch Blue Origin launch its New Shepard spacecraft live right here

Watch Blue Origin launch its New Shepard spacecraft live right here

Like most vertical rockets, the New Shepard is created to take off upright from a launchpad at Blue Origin's facilities in West Texas.

New Shepard flew for the ninth time on July 18, 2018.

The New Shepard booster is created to land similarly to SpaceX's Falcon 9 reusable rocket, falling back down to Earth and using the last of its fuel to perform a powered landing at a landing zone. Although it has not yet provided details, the company says it will fly "a high altitude escape motor test-pushing the rocket to its limits". The entire mission lasted 11 minutes and 17 seconds.

Both the booster and the capsule survived the test, returning to Earth with a soft landing.

As it continues to progress toward human flights, Blue Origin will perform another potentially unsafe uncrewed test today of its New Shepard rocket and spacecraft.

Perched on top of the vehicle is a capsule for crew members, which the rocket carries skyward during flight. There is speculation that Bezos himself, the world's richest person, will be among the first people to fly on New Shepard. Another reflown payload was an electromagnetic field experiment from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, previous versions of which went on the sixth and seventh test flights of the vehicle.

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

Another payload offered an unusual synergy with another part of Blue Origin.

The uncrewed test flight is the third one using Blue Origin's most recent model of the single-stage vehicle. "We're going to be firing it in the vacuum of space for the first time", Cornell said.

Another experiment, Granular Anisotropic Gases, was developed by Otto-von-Guericke University in Germany and funded by the German space agency DLR.

Piloted test flights are expected to start later this year, but no target dates have been announced. (Blue Origin via YouTube) The New Shepard capsule makes its descent. The next flight, Cornell said, will feature "finished customer interiors" like those that will be used on commercial flights of the vehicle, meant to carry up to six people.

Experiments hitching a ride on the test flight Wednesday include a privately-developed in-cabin WiFi transmitter, and a package of NASA sensors to measure cabin pressure, temperature, carbon dioxide levels, acoustic conditions, and acceleration inside the crew capsule. The company has not said what the price of the tickets would be. 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.

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