Blue Origin launches rocket to space in extreme test of crew capsule

During the launch, Blue Origin engineers were looking for the "red line" on that system, company spokesperson Ariane Cornell said on a webcast during the run-up to the launch, comparing it to the high-stress tests that cars and airplanes undergo before being put on sale.

Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic also plans to start flying paying customers to space on suborbital flights.

However, before any of that can happen the company needs to make sure its hardware is up to the task, and flights like the one today are steps in that direction.

The team will then attempt to safely land the booster, as it did during a similar test back in 2016.

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

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

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In a brief statement announcing Wednesday's flight, Blue Origin offered no further details on the objectives or the technical parameters for the planned high-altitude escape motor test. Onboard for the mission will be Blue Origin's Mannequin Skywalker, testing the in-flight Wi-Fi, taking a few science experiments to microgravity, and taking some employee "stuff" as part of the company's internal "Fly My Stuff" employee perk program.

It's part of a safety system meant to save lives once space tourists and others climb aboard for suborbital hops.

This was the third trip to space for both this New Shepherd rocket booster and the crew capsule, both created to be reusable like SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster and Dragon capsules. Once the booster separated, the capsule's escape motor fired, lifting the spacecraft to an altitude of 389,846 feet. "Great engineering and the lucky boots worked again". "It's coming", she said.

Blue Origin is developing a much bigger rocket, called New Glenn, as an orbital launcher. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload.

Blue Origin continue to take 2020 for the maiden flight of the New Glenn rocket, which like its smaller sister New Shepard, will include a booster that will return for reuse. "We have not set ticket pricing and have had no serious discussions inside of Blue on the topic", said the statement. "But we've got our eyes on the prize".

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