Blue Origin launches New Shepard rocket with NASA payloads


This mission was carrying 38 research payloads, including an experiment that will test a treatment for collapsed lungs and a student-led experiment to test temperature changes in microgravity.

Interestingly enough, New Shepard's objective isn't to only ferry science research: The rocket was built for carrying paying customers to space. "It's a fully reusable rocket, which means the entire system is recovered after each flight and then flown again".

The capsule, which detaches from the rocket near the top of its flight path, climbed to more than 346,000 feet, or 65 miles, above Earth during Friday's test flight, according to initial data reported by Blue Origin during a webcast. Thursday's launch from Blue Origin's Van Horn facility is the fifth flight for this particular vehicle, and 11th overall for the New Shepard booster.

Nine of these 38 experiments were supported by NASA.

While Blue Origin has not released a specific schedule for when passenger service will begin on their New Shepard system, the company has stated that they plan to begin selling tickets to customers sometime this year ahead of an anticipated first passenger flight by the end of the year. Both the booster and the capsule are supposed to come back down to Earth, just like the ones used on SpaceX's Falcon.

Named after Alan Shepard, the first American in space, the New Shepard system is reused by Blue Origin. It's also not known whether Bezos, the richest man on Earth, will take take a ride on his own rocket to become the richest man in space. And Blue Origin will today conduct a historic NASA mission with their New Shepard suborbital rocket, which can be live streamed online. But whenever the first space tourists fly, they'll enjoy a remarkable view. Several other startups are working hard on their own rocket technologies and courting eager clients with the prospect of affordable satellite launches and other potential missions. "After staying for a few minutes in the space, both the booster and capsule fall back to Earth; the booster reignites its engine after around three minutes of fall, to land upright on the ground, while three parachutes lower the capsule gently to the surface", said, Sareen.

For safety, the New Shepard capsule is equipped with "full envelope" abort capability, meaning its built-in escape thrusters can quickly push the capsule away from a malfunctioning booster during all phases of flight.