The rocket company, founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, took another step closer to launching humans into space with its latest New Shepard mission on Thursday.
The 14th test flight of the company’s first spaceflight vehicle boosted the crew’s capsule with some new bells and whistles, which would eventually be enjoyed by tourists which the company hopes to take on a joy ride in microgravity.
“The upgrade includes improvements in environmental features such as acoustics and temperature regulation inside the capsule, crew display panels, and microphones with speakers and push-to-talk buttons,” said a statement from Blue Origin prior to launch. “The mission will also test the communications and security warning systems of many astronauts. The capsule will be designed with six seats, including the mannequin occupied by the skywalker.”
The brand new New Shepard rocket was launched from West Texas at 9:20 am PT Thursday. The crew’s capsule broke apart and continued to the edge of space while the booster returned for a successful vertical landing approximately two miles from the launch pad. Meanwhile, with the help of mannequins, the mannequin Skywalker and the upgraded crew capsule landed a few minutes later.
The whole thing took only 10 minutes from launch to the soft landing of the capsule.
It is more than five years since New Shepard made a successful vertical landing from its first pioneering flight into space. Blue Origin’s process of working towards sending its first human passenger into space is slower than the company originally expected, but that’s when it comes to space tourism. The contestantRecent years have experienced their own delays.
Blue Origin has not yet announced pricing or when it will begin taking reservations for space flights.
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