Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket Aces Important Test

The booster and spacecraft blasted off from the company's launch site in West Texas shortly after 11 a.m.

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. 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.

During the test flight, the rocket was loaded up with both the Blue Origin test dummy - nicknamed Mannequin Skywalker, which took its third flight to space today - and a host of science payloads.

"On Mission 9, were firing the crew capsule escape motor at the highest altitude ever".

"It's an important step in our march in flying humans into space", Ariane Cornell, the Blue Origin launch broadcaster, said prior to the launch. It should start at 8 a.m. PT.

While testing with New Shepard continues, work on Blue Origin's next vehicle, the New Glenn is pressing on, albeit mainly away from the attention of the media.

"We'll be doing a high altitude escape motor test - pushing the rocket to its limits", noted Blue Origin ahead of the test.

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Although Blue Origin is yet to provide details, it is understood the company has already purchased the first landing ship for returning New Glenn boosters.

The launch included a number of different scientific instruments, medical items, and testing materials, along with Blue Origin's "Fly My Stuff" program, where the company's employees send their own materials into space.

Cornell didn't offer a timetable for crewed flights beyond "soon" during the webcast but said they could begin "after a couple more tests".

The vehicle's propulsion module boosted the crew capsule on a standard trajectory. "At Blue Origin, we're all about safety", she said. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload.

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

Many have wondered over the last few years how much a ticket on Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle will cost.

"It's coming", said Cornell, who's in charge of astronaut sales as well as launch commentary.

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