Blue Origin plans high-altitude escape test on launch Wednesday

Mindy Sparks
July 19, 2018

Blue Origin launched its New Shepard suborbital space vehicle for the ninth time, during an uncrewed test to "push the rocket to its limits".

The booster and spacecraft blasted off from the company's launch site in West Texas shortly after 11 a.m. Once the booster separated, the capsule's escape motor fired, lifting the spacecraft to an altitude of 389,846 feet. After that, both the capsule and the rocket safely returned to Earth.

Blue Origin didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wednesday's passenger was Mannequin Skywalker, an instrumented dummy in a blue flight suit that's flown before, plus science experiments.

Blue Origin launched a New Shepard rocket to space earlier in April. "We will begin selling tickets sometime after our first human flights and are focused on developing New Shepard", the company said in a statement, CNET reported.

"It's an important test in our march towards flying humans into space, which hopefully will be soon", Ariane Cornell, head of astronaut strategy and sales at Blue Origin, during a company webcast of the test.

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

If passengers were on board, that's when they would experience a few minutes of weightlessness. 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. (Blue Origin via YouTube) The New Shepard capsule makes its descent.

But if all goes well, she said, "it's going to be a sweet ride". That first crewed flight could take place before the end of the year. "We have not set ticket pricing and have had no serious discussions inside of Blue on the topic", said the statement.

Other experiments included one to measure magnetic fields inside the capsule and another to test a vibration isolation platform that could be used by future payloads to further reduce vibrations for "higher precision microgravity studies".

Those payloads some that flew previously, like the Schmitt Space Communicator developed by Solstar, a New Mexico company seeking to demonstrate the use of wifi communications technologies in space.

Blue Origin's New Shepard booster on its launch pad in West Texas.

The rocket is set to launch at 11 AM ET.


Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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