Blue Origin tests new motor during blastoff from Texas facility

Jeff Bezos Blue Origin to Launch'High-Altitude Escape Motor Test Wednesday

Blue Origin to push New Shepard safety regime with ninth test

Assuming success Wednesday, the aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos appears to be getting closer to flying humans into space on New Shepard.

By the seventh test, the campaign featured a new next-generation booster - powered by its BE-3 engine - and the first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0, a spacecraft that featured real windows, measuring 2.4 x 3.6 feet. It was the eighth time the company successfully tested the system for future passenger flights.

After launch, the capsule separated from the rocket just like it should, and then its emergency motor ignited - just as it's supposed to during an emergency situation. That's 74 miles or 119 kilometres.

TESTING. TESTING. Blue Origin wasn't the only company testing the waters with this New Shepard rocket launch; the rocket's capsule contained a variety of devices and experiments for scientists and educators conducting microgravity research.

He's named his rockets after NASA's original Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.

On Wednesday's flight, Blue Origin says it will push the New Shepard rocket to its limits with a high-altitude escape motor test.

The reusable New Shepard rocket settles to a picture-perfect touchdown.

"Anything could have happened today, and this is the best possible outcome", said Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin's launch commentator.

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

While this flight was primarily meant to demonstrate the vehicle's escape system, the crew capsule carried eight research and technology demonstration payloads, similar to what the vehicle has done on previous suborbital test flights.

Accompanying the dummy aboard the capsule were NASA atmospheric science experiments and payloads from paying customers.

Mannequin Skywalker had a smooth landing, Cornell reported.

The hardware used in previous tests has been retired and put on exhibit at Blue Origin's Florida rocket factory, where the orbital-class New Glenn rocket will be built. "We have not set ticket pricing and have had no serious discussions inside of Blue on the topic", said the statement.

But if all goes well, she said, "it's going to be a sweet ride". "But we've got our eyes on the prize".

One payload, called "Fly My Stuff", included personal items supplied by company employees. The New Glenn will compete with United Launch Alliance's upcoming Vulcan rocket and with SpaceX boosters in the USA launch market.

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