Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin launches spacecraft higher than ever

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That's 74 miles or 119 kilometers. 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. The rocket will be performing a "high altitude escape motor test", the company said on Twitter, simulating a high-altitude emergency scenario by igniting the escape booster on the bottom of the passenger, or in this case, payload capsule. On a standard mission, the craft separates from the rocket after engine cutoff and lands with the aid of parachutes.

New Shepard's reusable booster comes in for a landing.

"Anything could have happened today, and this is the best possible outcome", said Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin's launch commentator. "Mannequin had a smooth, smooth landing".

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

If all goes well, the demonstration may well see Blue Origin closer to flying people on brief trips to space. Such systems are created to fire quickly and separate the crew capsule from the booster during an emergency.

It is a so-called "full envelope" abort system, meaning it is created to operate in all phases of flight, from ground level to high altitudes and any point in between.

Blue Origin is owned by Jeffrey P. Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. After a successful launch, it will be available for use on the capsule's next flight.

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TESTING. TESTING. Blue Origin wasn't the only company testing the waters with this New Shepard rocket launch; the rocket's capsule contained a variety of devices and experiments for scientists and educators conducting microgravity research.

If passengers were on board, that's when they would experience a few minutes of weightlessness. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload. (Blue Origin via YouTube) The New Shepard capsule makes its descent.

But Blue Origin officials have not announced pricing or when tickets might go on sale. "We haven't set a price". We haven't released those details. "That means understanding everything that's necessary for human spaceflight, including the escape system". "Just another day at the office", she said. 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. There is speculation that Bezos himself, the world's richest person, will be among the first people to fly on New Shepard. Those missions will rely on the bigger, more powerful New Glenn rocket still under development.

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The West Texas launch facility is near Van Horn.

This year has already been packed with rocket launches, and many of those have come from SpaceX.

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