New Shepard makes 10th launch as Blue Origin aims to fly humans late in 2019
Wednesday January 23, 2019. 05:44 PM , from Ars Technica
Enlarge / The New Shepard launch system is prepared for Wednesday morning's flight. (credit: Blue Origin)
Under clear West Texas skies on Wednesday morning, Blue Origin's autonomous New Shepard launch system made what appeared to be a flawless flight into space and back. After separating from its booster, the spacecraft ascended to a height of 106.9km before returning to Earth by parachute. The booster also made a nominal powered landing.
For Blue Origin, the company's first flight of its reusable New Shepard system in more than six months served a dual purpose. It provided additional test data for the launch system as the company moves closer to crewed flights, and the launch allowed the company to fly eight NASA-sponsored research and technology payloads into space through NASA’s Flight Opportunities program.
During the webcast, Blue Origin's head of sales, Ariane Cornell, said the company was 'aiming' to conduct human flights on board New Shepard before the end of 2019 but stressed that Blue Origin would not compromise on safety to meet any arbitrary dates. The company has yet to begin selling tickets for the six-person capsule or set a price for the 11-minute experience that will take passengers above the Kármán line and provide a few minutes of weightlessness.
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