"On Mission 9, were firing the crew capsule escape motor at the highest altitude ever". Its effectiveness is essential to ensuring the safety of any people who might ride aboard the capsule in the future. It was the ninth test flight and lasted 11 minutes.
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. That's 74 miles or 119 kilometres.
The solid-fuel "pusher" abort motor, built by Aerojet Rocketdyne with subsystems provided by Blue Origin, is created to quickly ignite on command from flight controllers or an on-board computer if safety software detects an impending booster malfunction, rapidly propelling the capsule and its crew away from the rocket with a jarring burst of acceleration.
The New Shepard reusable rocket lifted off from the Washington-based company's suborbital facility in Van Horn, Texas, about 10 a.m.
Blue Origin launched a New Shepard rocket to space earlier in April. Unlike NASA's Mercury and Apollo spacecraft, which jettisoned their escape rockets before reaching orbit, Blue Origin's is built into the capsule.
Piloted test flights are expected to start later this year, but no target dates have been announced.
During the launch, Blue Origin engineers were looking for the "red line" on that system, company spokesperson Ariane Cornell said on a webcast during the run-up to the launch, comparing it to the high-stress tests that cars and airplanes undergo before being put on sale.
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The reusable New Shepard rocket settles to a picture-perfect touchdown.
"Just another day at the office", said Cornell.
A sensor-equipped test dummy nicknamed Mannequin Skywalker sat in one of the capsule's seats.
However, executives said they haven't set a price yet, according to CNET.
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. (Blue Origin via You Tube) New Shepard's capsule fires its retros as it touches down for a landing.
"But we've got our eye on the prize", she added.
Blue Origin is developing a much bigger rocket, called New Glenn, as an orbital launcher.