Wednesday's flight will be the ninth by a New Shepard rocket, and the third using Blue Origin's most recent model of the single-stage vehicle, which debuted in December and made its second launch and landing in April. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 350,000 feet (106,680 meters), which was about five percent higher than previous New Shepard test flights.
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.
Both the booster and the capsule survived the test, returning to Earth with a soft landing.
Another payload offered an unusual synergy with another part of Blue Origin.
New Shepard's reusable booster comes in for a landing.
While this test was unmanned, the reusable rocket is created to deliver payloads - and potentially tourists - to sub-orbital space.
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As planned, the high-altitude firing pushed the capsule past the boundary of outer space, to an unofficial maximum altitude of 389,846 feet, or 119 kilometers.
"We haven't started selling tickets yet for the trip to space", said Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin's launch commentator.
Other items aboard the flight include a NASA-funded vibration damping system to allow for more precise experiments in microgravity, an assortment of scientific, medical and textile materials from the Thai startup mu Space, and an allotment of mementos and other items provided by Blue Origin employees. "At Blue Origin, we're all about safety", she said. "Great engineering and the lucky boots worked again".
Blue Origin has yet to announce when it will start taking reservations or how much flights will cost. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload.
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. It's coming, but we've got our eye on the prize, and we've got to make sure we understand our system through and through.