From its desolate West Texas launchpad, Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin launched another reusable rocket into space, and then successfully landed both the rocket booster and the large-windowed crew capsule.
Blue Origin used this launch to test an abort of the capsule in space, should anything go wrong during a real crewed flight. (Those flights could launch as soon as 2019, according to some estimates.)
“It’s an important step in our march in flying humans into space,” Ariane Cornell, the Blue Origin launch broadcaster, said prior to the launch.
Footage of the entire launch, beginning with the rocket liftoff and ending with the capsule returning to the desert, can be watched below. Though, the 10-second countdown begins at around the 35 minute mark.
This was the third trip to space for both this New Shepherd rocket booster and the crew capsule, both designed to be reusable like SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster and Dragon Capsules.
The capsule parachuted down to the desert floor after reaching roughly 7,000 feet of altitude. It glided calmly to the ground at around 16 mph.
Overall, this was Blue Origin’s ninth test flight of a New Shepherd rocket. At the time of publishing, Blue Origin Origin did not reply to questions about how many more tests flights are needed before testing with humans begins. Also, ticket prices for a trip into space haven’t yet been decided, noted Cornell.
“But we’ve got our eye on the prize,” she added.
Although there weren’t any people aboard this test flight, Blue Origin’s test dummy, Mannequin Skywalker, was strapped in a chair to measure the gravitation forces a real body might experience during a somewhat violent abort.
Accompanying the dummy aboard the capsule were NASA atmospheric science experiments and payloads from paying customers. One such payload including an experiment funded both privately and by NASA, called Solstar, which tested WiFi capabilities in space.
Blue Origin’s billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, has grand designs for moving people and commerce into space, and his efforts begin with Blue Origin’s rockets. The first step, when realized, is space tourism, allowing visitors to briefly experience microgravity in Earth’s orbit, before parachuting down to West Texas.
In the coming decade, space tourists may regularly return to Earth in a calm, well-controlled fashion — like Wednesday’s landing.
“Just another day at the office,” said Cornell.
from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2Jy57Cq