Blue Origin test flight simulates space launch emergency

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

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

Blue Origin will once again be putting a mannequin onboard the New Shepard capsule today to measure the various forces it feels as it rides the powerful rocket skyward. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 350,000 feet (106,680 meters), which was about five percent higher than previous New Shepard test flights. The entire mission lasted 11 minutes and 17 seconds.

After launch, the reusable New Shepard booster will climb to an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), the internationally-approved boundary of space, and then proceed to land nearby. The propulsion module, about 30 meters away from the crew capsule when the motor fired, was unaffected by the test and made a powered vertical landing on a pad near the launch site.

The company's New Shepard rocket blasted off Wednesday on a test flight from West Texas. Blue Origin responded to the report, saying the company has not set ticket prices, and does not plan to sell rides until some time after New Shepard makes its first test flight with humans on-board.

These latest tests were also created to push the booster to its limit, which led to Blue Origin noting the potential they could lose the booster, not least during the focused testing on the escape system, centered around a solid motor firing for two seconds to fly the capsule free of a failing booster.

More than half a dozen scientific payloads were packed inside as well, plus mementos from Blue Origin employees that were included as part of an internal "Fly My Stuff" program.

The launch was webcast live on Blue Origin's website.

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. "It's coming", she said. Such systems are created to fire quickly and separate the crew capsule from the booster during an emergency.

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. That first crewed flight could take place before the end of the year. The dummy, flying on board a New Shepard ship for the third time, will allow scientists to test future passenger conditions.

Claims in the media - which haven't been verified by Blue Origin - note Jeff Bezos's company is going to charge between $200,000 and $300,000 per ticket for the short suborbital flight.

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