Blue Origin tests new motor during blastoff from Texas facility

Blue Origin's New Shepard spaceship on pad

Blue Origin is preparing its New Shepard suborbital spaceship for a test flight that’s expected to push the envelope. More

Thai company mu Space, which ordered a launch of Blue Origin's New Glenn orbital rocket in 2017, included a package with several experiments from universities and organizations in Thailand. Once the booster separated, the capsule's escape motor fired, lifting the spacecraft to an altitude of 389,846 feet. Its effectiveness is essential to ensuring the safety of any people who might ride aboard the capsule in the future. Both the booster and the capsule landed safely less than 12 minutes after liftoff, the latter touching down softly on the desert floor under parachutes, sending up a plume of dust.

The company's New Shepard rocket blasted off Wednesday on a test flight from West Texas.

This is not the first high-energy test of New Shepard.

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.

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

Mission 9 will feature a crew capsule mounted on top of the rocket to carry the experiments as well as a dummy called "Mannequin Skywalker". This time, the company is also flying a suite of materials from Blue Origin employees as a part of its internal "Fly My Stuff" program.

However, Blue Origin rebuked the amount in a statement.

Uber Spotlight helps drivers find riders using a bright color
Your driver will receive a message telling them what color to look for, so you can just hold your phone in the air. It isn't much, considering that you may miss your flight as a result, but we'll take what we can get.

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

The escape rocket motor is built into the crew capsule to provide a backup plan in case something goes wrong with New Shepard's booster.

Blue Origin's billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, has grand designs for moving people and commerce into space, and his efforts begin with Blue Origin's rockets.

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. That first crewed flight could take place before the end of the year.

Blue Origin has not started selling tickets for seats on commercial New Shepard flights, but Reuters reported last week the flight opportunities are expected to sell for between $200,000 and $300,000.

Eventually, up to six passengers at a time could get on board the New Shepard spaceship, which flies under autonomous control. 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.

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