Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket will conduct its ninth test flight on Wednesday with a short hop pushing the vehicle to its limits - in order to satisfy safety parameters, whilst also carrying numerous payloads in the capsule.
The capsule, meanwhile, climbed to a maximum altitude of around 393,000 feet - more than 74 miles - subjecting an instrumented test dummy - "Mannequin Skywalker" - to about 10 times the force of gravity during the brief abort motor firing, which pushed the craft about 50,000 feet higher than a normal flight. The company just completed its eighth test mission last April.
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.More news: Russians hail Trump summit as a win for Putin
The reusable New Shepard booster is created to take off from a launch pad, climb to the internationally-recognized boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), and land nearby with rocket thrust and aerobrakes. 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.
The company's New Shepard rocket blasted off Wednesday on a test flight from West Texas.
Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic also plans to start flying paying customers to space on suborbital flights. (Blue Origin via YouTube) The New Shepard capsule makes its descent.More news: German minister warns Trump against unilateral deals with Putin
"Anything could have happened today, and this is the best possible outcome", said Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin's launch commentator. (Blue Origin via You Tube) New Shepard's capsule fires its retros as it touches down for a landing.
New Shepard's reusable booster comes in for a landing. 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. "We are really curious how microgravity affects the structure and properties of things, and we hope this flight will help us understand the science behind it", said James Yenbamroong, chief executive and founder of mu Space, in a preflight statement.More news: Mamma Mia! Cher is releasing an entire album of ABBA covers
Those payloads some that flew previously, like the Schmitt Space Communicator developed by Solstar, a New Mexico company seeking to demonstrate the use of wifi communications technologies in space.