Blue Origin launches rocket to space in extreme test of crew capsule

Blue Origin New Shepard launch

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

During the 2016 test, ignition of the escape motor did not noticeably affect the reusable booster, which continued to fire before shutting down normally and falling back to Earth for a rocket-powered upright landing. Its effectiveness is essential to ensuring the safety of any people who might ride aboard the capsule in the future.

"On Mission 9, were firing the crew capsule escape motor at the highest altitude ever".

Booster landing
New Shepard’s reusable booster comes in for a landing

The capsule parachuted down to the desert floor after reaching roughly 7,000 feet of altitude.

It's a situation that would only occur if the passenger capsule needed to boost away from the rocket booster in case of an emergency during launch.

The vehicle lifted off from the company's West Texas test site at 11:11 a.m. One company sent up a system created to provide reliable WiFi connectivity in space, while another added a number of textiles to the capsule so they could test their viability for use in space suits.

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Blue Origin has yet to announce when it will start selling tickets or how much flights will cost.

"We have not set ticket pricing and have had no serious discussions inside of Blue on the topic. 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. "But we've got our eyes on the prize".

While this test was unmanned, the reusable rocket is created to deliver payloads - and potentially tourists - to sub-orbital space.

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Blue Origin has provided only vague schedules about when human flights would begin, with company officials saying recently they anticipated starting to fly humans on test flights by the end of this year. "Just another day at the office", she said. The company says more than 700 people have signed up to fly.

The rocket is set to launch at 11 AM ET.

Blue Origin has completed a sprawling rocket factory near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to build New Glenn rockets and is developing a launch pad at the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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