Amazon.com billionaire Jeff Bezos’ space venture, Blue Origin, launched its New Shepard spaceship almost as high as outer space during a test flight on Wednesday — and although the craft’s propulsion module was lost, the empty crew capsule made a parachute landing just the way it was supposed to.
“Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return,” Bezos wrote in a recap of the test, which took place at Blue Origin’s sprawling test facility in West Texas. “In fact, if New Shepard had been a traditional expendable vehicle, this would have been a flawless first test flight.”
Blue Origin, a rocket engine and spacecraft development company owned by Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos, carried out an unpiloted maiden test flight of the company’s New Shepard sub-orbital launch vehicle Wednesday, the historically secretive company revealed early Thursday.
A dramatic video posted on the company’s website showed the squat vertical-takeoff-and-landing New Shepard rocket being erected on a launch platform at Blue Origin’s west Texas development facility followed by a brief countdown — with Bezos looking on — a smooth liftoff and a vertical climb to an altitude of 58 miles.
Blue Origin has conducted a test flight of its New Shepard suborbital system. Aimed at the space tourism market, the BE-3 engine-driven rocket lofted its capsule to Mach 3 and its planned test altitude of 307,000 feet. Attempts to recover the booster – which is designed to be reusable – were unsuccessful, although tweaks to the hydraulic system are already planned for the next test flights.
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Highlights from Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle as it makes its first developmental test flight.
Long distance tracking of Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle as it makes its first flight, carrying its crew capsule to 307,000 feet and returning it safely to Earth.
WASHINGTON — New Shepard, a reusable suborbital vehicle developed by Blue Origin, made its first test flight April 29, flying to the edge of space but failing to recover one part of the vehicle afterwards.
Blue Origin announced in a statement late April 29 that the vehicle flew its first “developmental” test flight earlier that day from the company’s test site in a remote region of West Texas. The uncrewed vehicle flew to a peak altitude of more than 93,500 meters and achieved a top speed of Mach 3.
The company said that most elements of the vehicle, including its BE-3 main engine developed in-house, performed well. The crew capsule separated from the vehicle’s propulsion module and parachuted back to Earth. “Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return,” the company said.