Blue Origin plans high-altitude escape test on launch Wednesday

Blue Origin to push New Shepard safety regime with ninth test

The launch will also see the New Shepard rocket perform a high-altitude escape motor test to push the ship to its limit.

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

The test will simulate an emergency high altitude "escape motor" test. It was the eighth time the company successfully tested the system for future passenger flights.

To keep the booster from being blasted, Blue Origin programmed the capsule to make a clean separation to a distance of several hundred feet before the escape rocket motor fired up. It should start at 8 a.m. PT.

This launch was the ninth for the New Shepard program, and the third for this particular combination of crew capsule and propulsion module.

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.

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Other items aboard the flight include a NASA-funded vibration damping system to allow for more precise experiments in microgravity, an assortment of scientific, medical and textile materials from the Thai startup mu Space, and an allotment of mementos and other items provided by Blue Origin employees. "Mannequin had a smooth, smooth landing". "At Blue Origin, we're all about safety", she said. 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. "Great engineering and the lucky boots worked again".

Eventually, up to six passengers at a time could get on board the New Shepard spaceship, which flies under autonomous control. The Reuters news agency, quoting an unnamed source, recently reported that tickets were expected to initially cost between $200,000 and $300,000, making it competitive with rides aboard the winged spaceplane Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is developing.

"Just another day at the office", said Cornell.

Today's mission was created to test the high-altitude escape motor of New Shepard's crew capsule, said representatives of Blue Origin, which is run by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Those missions will rely on the bigger, more powerful New Glenn rocket still under development.

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

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