The ninth mission for the spacecraft was to test the escape motor at high altitude. Its effectiveness is essential to ensuring the safety of any people who might ride aboard the capsule in the future. "We are stressing the rocket to test that astronauts can get away from an anomaly at any time during flight", the company said in a statement yesterday (July 17).
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.
The reusable New Shepard booster is created to take off from a launch pad, climb to the internationally-recognized boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometers), and land nearby with rocket thrust and aerobrakes. Such systems are created to fire quickly and separate the crew capsule from the booster during an emergency.
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.
Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic also plans to start flying paying customers to space on suborbital flights. Unlike NASA's Mercury and Apollo spacecraft, which jettisoned their escape rockets before reaching orbit, Blue Origin's is built into the capsule.
Blue Origin continue to take 2020 for the maiden flight of the New Glenn rocket, which like its smaller sister New Shepard, will include a booster that will return for reuse.
"Anything could have happened today, and this is the best possible outcome", launch commentator Ariane Cornell said.
The reusable New Shepard rocket settles to a picture-perfect touchdown.
Blue Origin's New Shepard booster on its launch pad in West Texas. A separate employee said prices would begin at $200,000, according to Reuters. "It's coming", she said. The experiment will record vehicle conditions including cabin pressure, temperature, CO2, acoustic conditions, and acceleration. There is speculation that Bezos himself, the world's richest person, will be among the first people to fly on New Shepard.
This year has already been packed with rocket launches, and many of those have come from SpaceX.