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Blue Origin’s first space mission of 2018 launched

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Blue Origin launched New Shepard to a target altitude of about 107 km, slightly higher than the company's typical target of about 100 km, the altitude widely accepted as the boundary line for space.
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Blue Origin, the US aerospace company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has launched its suborbital New Shepard rocket and space capsule.

The mission on Sunday marked the company’s first test flight of the year and second flight of the New Shepard 2.0 spacecraft, Xinhua news agency reported.

Thunderstorms have delayed Sunday’s planned launch of Blue Origin’s New Shepard 2.0 spacecraft. The vehicle, named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard, lifted offfrom its West Texas test site.

“Another spectacular test mission,” Ariane Cornell of Blue Origin said during a launch webcast. “Today, we’re going to push the system a little bit harder.”

Blue Origin launched New Shepard to a target altitude of about 107 km, slightly higher than the company’s typical target of about 100 km, the altitude widely accepted as the boundary line for space.

Thunderstorms have delayed Sunday's planned launch of Blue Origin's New Shepard 2.0 spacecraft. The vehicle, named after the first American in space, Alan Shepard, lifted offfrom its West Texas test site.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin, wikimedia commons

“Apogee of 351,000 feet (66 miles, 107 km), and that’s the altitude we’ve been targeting for operations. One step closer,” billionaire Bezos tweeted.

New Shepard is a reusable vertical takeoff, vertical landing space vehicle, consisting of a pressurized capsule atop a booster.

Several minutes after lift-off, the booster made a successful vertical landing. The capsule fell back to Earth a few minutes later, descending on parachutes and cushioning its own landing with retrorockets.

“Touchdown of the New Shepard Booster and Crew Capsule! Congrats to Team Blue and our payload customers on board today!” the company tweeted.

This is Blue Origin’s eight spaceflight since the company began flight testing New Shepard vehicles. The first New Shepard 2.0 launch occurred in December 2017, with six other flights launching on a predecessor New Shepard, which Blue Origin has since retired.

Blue Origin tweeted that dummy astronaut, affectionately nicknamed “Mannequin Skywalker” was on board New Shepard for his 2nd mission. “He’s a little sensitive about being called a ‘dummy’, as he will be conducting astronaut telemetry and science studies – a very important job!”

Also Read: NASA Ready To Study Heart Of Mars

In addition to the test dummy astronaut, the mission also carried many commercial payloads on board New Shepard for in-space science and technology demonstrations. These payloads represent a range of users, from NASA’s Johnson Space Center to a small commercial communications firm, as well as the company’s first European customers, funded by the German national space agency, DLR.

“Earth is the best planet in our solar system. We go to space to save the Earth,” Bezos tweeted on Earth Day.

The company is working on a larger rocket called New Glenn that could directly compete with SpaceX for commercial launch contracts, but it isn’t expected to be ready until 2020.

New Shepard 2.0 space capsule is designed to fly commercial payloads and up to 6 passengers on suborbital space flights for science and tourism. The capsule features giant windows to give future passengers a stunning view of their launch into space. (IANS)

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Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Launches Spacecraft Higher Than Ever

He’s named his rockets after NASA’s original Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth

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FILE - The lobby of space venture Blue Origin features a replica of the Earth, March 8, 2016, in Kent, Wash. On Wednesday, the company sent a capsule to an altitude of 74 miles. (VOA)

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket company shot a capsule higher into space Wednesday than it’s ever done before.

The New Shepard rocket blasted off from West Texas on the company’s latest test flight. Once the booster separated, the capsule’s escape motor fired, lifting the spacecraft to an altitude of 389,846 feet. That’s 74 miles or 119 kilometers.

It’s part of a safety system intended to save lives once space tourists and others climb aboard for suborbital hops.

Wednesday’s passenger was Mannequin Skywalker, an instrumented dummy in a blue flight suit that’s flown before, plus science experiments.

Jeff-Bezo
FILE – Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 5, 2017. (VOA)

The booster and capsule, both repeat fliers, landed successfully. It was the ninth test flight and lasted 11 minutes.

“Crew Capsule looks great even after it was pushed hard by the escape test. Astronauts would have had an exhilarating ride and safe landing,” Bezos said in a tweet. “Great engineering and the lucky boots worked again.”

Blue Origin has yet to announce when it will start selling tickets or how much flights will cost. Launch commentator Ariane Cornell promised it would be soon. “It’s coming,” she said.

Also Read: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Space Rides Said to Cost $200K or More

Bezos, founder and chief executive of Amazon, aims to send people and payloads into orbit from Cape Canaveral. Those missions will rely on the bigger, more powerful New Glenn rocket still under development.

He’s named his rockets after NASA’s original Mercury astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth. (VOA)

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